E&Y ready to relocate.

Big Five firm Ernst & Young is to move its headquarters to a new seven-storey building on the South Bank of the Thames near London Bridge.

The firm will take up occupation of the offices in 2003, and has agreed a 25-year lease.

E&Y chairman Nick Land said the decision to choose the site, known as More London, on which the new headquarters of the mayor and Greater London Assembly is also being built, was based on the need for ‘a superb working environment’ for staff.

The move, he added, would also allow for the ‘potential for growth’ of the firm.

‘Several other sites were considered and investigated, but did not offer the flexibility and opportunity presented by the More London development,’ he added.

Canary Wharf was among the locations considered, provoking speculation that E&Y could become the first Big Five firm to leave the City or the area immediately surrounding it.

E&Y currently has two main offices in central London, at Fetter Lane and Lambeth Palace Road. It also has eight smaller offices in the capital.

The site is the final part of a chain of urban regeneration and development along the South Bank, and when completed will provide 1.7 million square feet of offices, a hotel, shops, restaurants and public open spaces.

The site is centrally located, close to the City and to cultural hotspots such as the Tate Modern, London Dungeon, the Design Museum and the Globe Theatre.

It would also be close to rival PricewaterhouseCooper’s Southwark Tower office.

However, how long PwC’s office remains standing could depend on whether proposals to build a new tower on the site, twice the height of the London Eye, are given the go ahead.

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