Embassy Residences vs Embassy Offices

The Upper Leeson St Area Residents Association was founded over 40 years ago with the aim of preserving the residential nature of the neighbourhood at a time when office use was beginning to dominate our area and houses were being converted to commercial usage. Great efforts were made by the Association to reverse this trend and fortunately met with much success as can be seen by the numbers of families who have moved back into the area in recent years.

We welcome embassy residences in our area but are increasingly alarmed by the trend for embassy offices moving into the area at the expense of residential amenities. Embassy offices are offices. They bring with them all the negative connotations of increased traffic, conversion of gardens into parking areas, signage, flagpoles, security kiosks as well as the additional problem of demonstrations and the potential risk of terrorism to our neighbourhood.

In addition the privilege of diplomatic immunity enjoyed by embassies can lead to the flaunting of basic rules or laws which local residents must adhere to. Most of the houses in our area are Protected Structures and are subject to strict planning controls. Some embassies chose to ignore planning regulations and take the attitude that as a diplomatic mission they can do as they like with their property — in spite of the fact that they do need permission. In our experience, enforcement in such cases is weak.

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