Google reveals new London ‘groundscraper’ HQ

Google’s new UK headquarters is a building longer than the Shard skyscraper is tall.

The so-called groundscraper at the King’s Cross Central development is the latest overseas property deal by Google, which will house all of its London staff under one roof when completed in 2016.

Google revealed designs for the low-rise one million square feet scheme after announcing its move to King’s Cross in January.

At 330 meters long, it will exceed the height of the 310-metre tall Shard, western Europe’s tallest skyscraper.

[IMG ID=196681F]Google’s planned London HQ[/IMG]

Google has spent about £650 million to buy and develop the 2.4 acre site and the finished development will be worth up to £1 billion, sources told Reuters.

Construction will start early next year subject to planning approval and it will be one of the firm’s largest offices outside its so-called Googleplex corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Google is a prized tenant for landlords and its presence is expected to draw other technology companies to King’s Cross – especially small start-ups – and help bump up rents.

The new site is likely to include a 20,000 square feet area for bike parking, about the size of seven tennis courts, and features a climbing wall between floors, a source close to the project told Reuters.

The company’s offices are famous for perks such as gourmet food, bowling alleys, roof gardens, high-tech gyms and on-site medical staff and massages.

King’s Cross Central, which sits on a former fish, coal and grain goods yard to the north of the city, spans 67 acres and will contain homes, offices and shops. It is being built by the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership which includes developer Argent Group.

Google has traditionally leased its overseas offices but in the past two years has purchased premises in Paris, Dublin, and now London, its filings show.

As of December 31, 2011, Google had $44.6 billion of cash, with $21.2 billion of that held offshore, according to its 2011 annual report. If the funds held offshore were repatriated, they would be subject to US taxes, Google said.

Tax campaigner and accountant Richard Murphy told Reuters at the time of the January announcement that the decision to buy rather than rent was likely “tax motivated”, driven by the fact the company cannot repatriate the cash to the US without paying a fat tax bill.

Google declined to comment on the tax issue in relation to its new London building but said such a large-scale investment was a boost to the British economy.

Earlier this month British MPs described Google’s tax affairs as “contrived” after report showed the company employed staff in sales roles in London, even though it had told MPs in November its British staff were not selling to UK clients – an activity that could boost its tax bill substantially.

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