Although a public decision by the British government isn’t expected till later this year, insiders say it is certain that the whole remaining British embassy compound in Wireless Road, Bangkok, is to be sold to the highest bidder. The current eight acre premises, which are prime real estate, are estimated to be worth at least 200 million pounds. Embassy officials first took up residence there in 1922. A four-acre frontage of the embassy, located at the intersection of Wireless and Ploenchit roads, was sold in 2006 for 50 million pounds to Tiang Chirathivat Real Estate, part of Central Group, which owned a neighboring flagship retail property. At the time, the sale was one of Thailand’s largest property sales ever but, in the last 10 years, prime real estate in central Bangkok has soared even further in value. It is not uncommon for the cash-strapped British government to seek cash savings in its overseas missions. In 2005, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced that 30 diplomatic posts in the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean would be downgraded to combat terrorism, weapons proliferation and global warming. In 2012 it was announced that the British consulate in Jomtien would be closed, followed in 2014 by the news that the long-standing Chiang Mai consulate would also be shut down. Various reasons were given at the time, but included budgetary savings, the need to centralize services in Bangkok and the importance of putting more resources into emergency consular cases. Embassy staff and remaining services will relocate either to a smaller compound in Bangkok or, more likely, to some characterless office block along with most other, smaller diplomatic missions in the metropolis.
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