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The entrance of the Silver Vaults in London's Chancery Lane.

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All leases for tenants at 53-64 Chancery Lane, including the basement that contains the Silver Vaults, will come to an end in 2021.

Although the landlord Aviva is undecided on whether it will embark on work or retain the building as it is, some of the 30 subterranean silver dealers are concerned they will have to move out in the coming years.

Long history

The history of the Silver Vaults goes back to 1876 when the Chancery Lane Safety Deposit opened. The building was damaged during the Second World War and rebuilt in the 1950s as retail units in the basement and offices above.

Lewis Smith, director at Koopman Rare Art, which has traded from a gallery at the entrance to the vaults since 1969, said: “The building has grown naturally as a trading place over the past 100 years. If it had to move it will never be the same again. The situation is scary and uncertain for people involved but it is not necessarily bad. This could be a chance for a change and if the participants in the silver trade were prepared to invest, it could be an opportunity. Dealers could get together to take a retail space and move elsewhere. But you can’t replicate the vaults and safety deposit boxes.”

He added: “My view is that no decision will be taken until 2019, after Brexit. The landlords will want to wait until then before they commit to spending millions on any property plan. The leases may well be extended beyond 2021.”

Aviva declined to comment but one local property agent told ATG: “New tenants are being offered shorter leases to all end at the same time. This is just good estate management. It is a multi-let building and the landlord will undoubtedly review its options. We don’t believe that any decisions have been taken about the future of the building.”

“The situation is scary and uncertain for people involved but it is not necessarily bad

A spokeswoman for the Silver Vaults Business Association said: “There is currently no issue with the leasing for The London Silver Vaults.”

Fact box: Silver Vaults

1876: Chancery Lane Safety Deposit opened

WWII: Vaults used to store silver/valuables during London bombings

1953: Rebuilt after bomb damage with retail units in the basement

2021: Current leases in the building to end