Google plans £1 billion London HQ

Google’s planning a huge corporate headquarters in London, closing two offices and moving onto a £1 billion site in King’s Cross.

According to the BBC, the company’s acquired a 2.4 acre site for the new development. This will house two large buildings, one with seven floors, and one with 11, totalling over a million square feet of office space. Construction is due to start later this year, with completion in 2016.

In the past, Google has generally leased its non-US offices, although it recently purchased premises in Paris and Dublin. The company will now quit its offices in Victoria and Holborn, although it still has a ten-year lease on a building in the capital’s Tech City and an office in Manchester.

“This is a big investment by Google. We’re committing further to the UK, where computing and the web were invented,” says the company’s VP for northern and central Europe, Matt Brittin. “It’s good news for Google, for London and for the UK.”

Not everybody will agree, though, that the move’s automatically good new for the UK. The company’s recently come under fire from members of parliament over its tax arrangements, which saw it paying just £6 million in corporation tax in the UK last year, on sales of £2.5 billion.

Buying expensive properties in central London is likely to see the company’s overall tax bill go down, rather than up, as it means the company won’t have to repatriate its significant cash reserves.

As tax campaigner Richard Murphy points out to Reuters, “If you’re not going to send it back to the parent company to repurchase its shares, which is the normal route for a US corporation sitting on a pile of cash, what else are you going to do with it?”