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Diasporian News of Sunday, 19 February 2012

Source: SIFAT COMMUNICATIONS - London

High Commission Building Renovated In London

STORY: SIFAT COMMUNICATIONS - London

A huge renovated building to house the visa section of the Ghana High Commission in the United Kingdom will be handed over to the Government of Ghana in a month’s time.

The building, which is situated on the Highgate Hill in North London, has housed the visa section and other departments such as Trade and Tourism as well as the Education for some decades now.

The place became so dilapidated that the Haringey Council in London where the edifice is situated nearly took the Government of Ghana to court to press for renovation.

With a little over 1.5 million Pounds spent on the renovation of the building which popularly known as the Cromwell House the place has been turned into one of the most beautiful foreign mission houses in the city of London. A contract awarded in March last year for the renovation of the 104 Highgate Hill has seen an architectural design that exhibits a combination of the old antique features of the building and modern building materials to portray building excellence.

Some few old architectural features such as the pillars made of materials such as horsehair have been better preserved having original brick upper storeys, with a few doorways, railings, and even canopied shop-fronts look much more attractive and beautiful.

The Cromwell House (no. 104 Highgate Hill) has been an envy of a many well-to-do and some international organisations in the UK not only due to its prestigious location but also the image it has acquired for itself as the first building on a bank which was raised towards the popular Cholmeley Park, near the foot of one of the great high streets in the city

Cromwell House was originally built of deep red brick and consists of basement, two storeys, and an attic. Today, there is also an extension and one more storey. The lower part of the forecourt wall and the gate piers are also 18thcentury, as are the sash windows, while the brick parapet and the roof with its dormers and cupola are of the 1860s, reconstructions.

The interior contains an elaborate oak staircase of the earlier 17th century, some contemporary panelling, and several carved door cases, some of which have been modernised so professionally according to the agreement with the Haringey Council.

The Director of the Kuma Environmental Designs, Architectural Consultants on the project Mr. Kobby Mensa-Kuma told this reporter “Greater care was taken to bring the project to this level, it is 98 percent completed.”

He said it is a very old building, which is of much tourism and locational structural importance to the Haringey Council, and therefore there was the urgent need to comply with all their directives and also to protect the historic dimensions of the building.

Now the place could accommodate some more officials of the mission who would want to work from here rather than the 13 Belgrave Square, which is the main office of the mission. Facilities at Cromwell House are second to none and comparable to the high-class missions in the city of London such as the USA and Canada. There are rest rooms with kitchen, disabled as well as mother and childcare facilities. The main waiting hall could accommodate up to about two hundred people at a time with interview cubicles increased from three to nine with modern acoustic and communication facilities.

The interview cubicles have been designed to provide complete safety and security to staff by protecting them from aggressive clients. Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Professor Kwaku Danso Boafo who inspected work on the project said the staff would be trained before they start work there in June this year.

He said apart from the need to know how to use the facilities, there is also the need for the staff to provide an excellent customer care to go with the facility.

He expressed the hope that the facility will not only be an icon for Ghana in the UK but also will depict what Ghana has to offer in terms of investment and tourism delivery to the rest of the world. .

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