IT will never have the class or the beauty of the former home of the UK Government in Scotland, but at least Westminster’s new Edinburgh base is nearing completion.

St Andrew’s House, the art deco-style Grade A listed building on Calton Hill, is now in the possession of the Scottish Government and houses the First Minister’s Office among others.

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It overlooks, probably quite sneeringly, the architecturally undistinguished New Waverley building in the Old Town, which includes the new UK Government offices next door to a Premier Inn and shops.

Yesterday the "topping out" ceremony took place for the UK Government’s new base, described as a "cross-departmental flagship hub" in Scotland, which will function as the Scottish base of several UK Government bodies.

These include the Office of David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland; the Office of the Advocate General; the Competition and Markets Authority; the Office for Statistics Regulation; the Government Actuary’s Department; and HM Treasury. Staff from the Health and Safety Executive and the Information Commissioner’s Office will be among the 2,900 based in the building.

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Intriguingly, the hub will be open by 2020 but only has a 25-year lease.

As one Edinburgh SNP source said: “You would have thought they would have had a much longer lease than that if they were intending to hang around.

“I hope for the sake of the English taxpayers that they have one of those leases that you can exit quite quickly because the way that Mundell and May’s Government are acting, Scotland might well be about to render a UK Government base quite useless.”

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The topping out showed that the seven-level development, which comprises two interlinked office buildings providing almost 200,000 sq ft of ultra-modern Grade A office space, has now reached its highest point.

The occasion was marked by the UK Government and developers Artisan Real Estate Investors.

In a statement they said: “The new Government offices will offer the highest levels of sustainability and operational efficiency, and employees will benefit from a contemporary design with added staff amenities including a landscaped roof area providing sweeping views.”

Neil Richardson, Commercial Director of the Government Property Agency said: “The hub will provide high-quality skilled jobs right in the heart of the city centre as well as contributing significantly to the local economy. Alongside significant savings for the taxpayer, the roll-out of Government Hubs will provide modern working environments across the whole of the UK enabling us to provide the best public services.”

Welcoming the UK Government to New Waverley, Clive Wilding, Artisan’s project director, said: “Bringing the UK Government hub right into the historic heart of Edinburgh is a ringing endorsement for what we are building here – not just for New Waverley, but for the city of Edinburgh and for Scotland. It sends out an important message that our city centres have the interest, value and capacity to attract investment from the very best employers, setting an important precedent for Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland

“For New Waverley, it’s another significant step of our journey to restore life, vitality and energy to this very special part of Edinburgh’s historic city centre, and will be a natural fit for the exciting and vibrant mixed-use community we are creating here."