News International to sell Wapping site

News International, which owned the now-closed News of the World, is to sell its site in Wapping.

The global media group, founded by tycoon Rupert Murdoch, announced in a statement this afternoon it would be selling the 15-acre site in East London.

The decision follows just months after the company decided to close the News of the World because of the phone hacking scandal, which is still being investigated by police.

The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun, the group’s other papers, are housed in Thomas More Square in Wapping, just yards from the old site.

The company’s statement said: “News International today announces it is putting its Wapping site up for sale.

“The decision to sell the 15-acre site follows a review of News International’s London property portfolio.

“The majority of News International’s Wapping-based editorial and commercial staff have now relocated into Thomas More Square, with the remainder to be relocated by the end of 2011.

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“Thomas More Square provides the company with excellent facilities and flexibility.

“As a result, and in light of current market conditions, News International has decided not to proceed with re-modelling the Wapping site.”

News International moved into the area in 1986. Murdoch’s clashes with the print unions led to massive demonstrations in Wapping when he shifted his publishing empire out of Fleet Street, and caused the headquarters to be dubbed Fortress Wapping.

In 2009 plans by News International to revamp its Wapping headquarters and printworks were approved by Tower Hamlets Council.

Staff at the papers were due to be joined by staff from other companies in the News Corporation group - New International’s parent company - such as Dow Jones, Harper Collins, MySpace and 20th Century Fox at a remodelled Wapping site. The remodelled site would also have included shops and a museum.

The expansion was due to be completed by 2012.