Tender documents reveal British contractors will not be eligible to build new American embassy in Battersea for security reasons

British builders and architects will be unable to bid for the construction and design of the new US embassy, it has emerged.

For security reasons, only American contractors and design teams will be considered for the building of the new embassy, in the Nine Elms area of Battersea.

The US Department of State signed an agreement with Irish developer Ballymore last month to acquire a site in Wandsworth for the construction of a new embassy building.

The embassy announced it would be holding a design competition to “ensure the new facility reflects the best of modern design, incorporates the latest in energy-efficient building techniques and celebrates the values of freedom and democracy.”

But it has emerged that only American architects with “experience in the design of American embassies and other buildings” will be invited to tender for the project, although UK-based branches of American firms will be able to apply.

Furthermore, the tender documents say the building must hold “defense security service secret facility clearance” with “secret safeguarding capability”. Foreign firms are not eligible for this level of clearance.

However, it is understood UK firms will be eligible to work as subcontractors on the new building, which will be a secure facility containing a CIA operations centre and an FBI liaison office.

The present embassy building in Grosvenor Square was designed by Eero Saarinen, the Finnish-American architect, and opened in 1960.