Queen Elizabeth II Centre
|Parent agency||Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government|
The site now occupied by the Queen Elizabeth II Centre was previously occupied by several buildings. At the northern end of the site were the headquarters of the Stationery Office which had originally been the "Parliamentary Mews" built in 1825 by Decimus Burton and converted in 1853-5. The southern side was occupied by the Westminster Hospital built by W & H W Inwood in 1831-4 and expanded later that century and in 1924. The previous buildings became surplus to requirements in 1950 and were demolished; designs were drawn up by Thomas Tait for building a new Colonial Office on the site; however only the foundations had been built by the time progress was halted in 1952.
In 1958 it was decided that there would be an open space on the southern edge of the site by Broad Sanctuary, and an architectural competition for a conference hall and government offices was held in 1961. The competition was won by William Whitfield but the scheme was not executed due to the plans for redeveloping Whitehall drawn up by Leslie Martin in 1965. The site remained in limbo until a feasibility study for the conference centre was drawn up in 1975. The centre as eventually built was designed by Powell Moya & Partners and constructed by Bovis Construction with work starting in 1981; it was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986.
The Centre is owned by HM Government and its operation is conducted by an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government. It has 32 versatile "empty box" style rooms which are suitable for a range of events. It specialises in events for between 40 and 1,300 delegates. It also has 2,000 square metres of exhibition space. The Centre is a very successful venue hosting over 400 meetings each year and returning an annual dividend to the Exchequer, thus not reliant on the taxpayer for financial support. It was confirmed in the 2003 UK Intelligence and Security Report that the Queen Elizabeth II has been used for some time as a UK intelligence services listening station where they "Intercept the communications and bug the conversations of the delegations to the many International Conferences regularly held there, as well as British MP's and others involved in political, diplomatic or intelligence activities."[unreliable source]
- Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, "London 6: Westminster" (The Buildings of England), Yale University Press, 2003, p. 272-3.
- John Taylor & Sons, Page 100
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