Who wants to buy TVC?

TVC Central Courtyard, Television Centre

The BBC announced this morning that Television Centre is now formally for sale. Bidders are being sought to either buy the place as a whole and re-develop it, or to enter into a joint-venture partnership which would retain some of the most well-known features of the site.

The iconic building on Wood Lane is part Grade II listed, with the main 'doughnut' of the building and the statue of Helios in the central courtyard the parts the BBC would hope to see preserved under any partnership deal.

Chris Kane, head of BBC Workplace, told Ariel: 'We're having a market testing exercise over the summer and autumn months to see who's out there and what volume of interest there might be.'

Expressions of interest

Kane said the property market at present was encouraging, and the BBC had already recieved expressions of interest in the site - it now wants to see what sort of re-development might be proposed. 'We spent six months really agonizing over this choice, and that's why as part of this exercise we're looking to see if there's someone out there who won't follow the traditional route of trying to dilute the English Heritage restraints, mazimise land value and put x thousand apartments on it. There may be someone who can recognise the iconic legacy of TVC. One of the things we're using in our marketing approach is 'land and brand' because there is a connection, the BBC has been here a long time, why wouldn't you associate yourself with that?'

What the BBC is hoping to establish is whether it is possible to preserve the key listed elements of the building as well as creating a viable commercial site and allowing the general public still to visit, perhaps a mix of residential, commercial and tourism options.

In four years time much of Television Centre will be empty, and the process of vacating the building is well under way, as divisions move to Salford and News prepares to re-locate to Broadcasting House.

An empty feeling

Richard Deverell, W12 programme director and the man who will oversee the emptying out of TVC, said: 'TVC isn't going to disappear overnight, but by the end of next year most of News will have moved out, all of Sport, all of Children's, all of 5 live - it will suddenly start to feel empty.'

He said one of the most important parts of that process of removal will be sorting out the technology, explaining; 'TVC is the home of our critical broadcast technology and the most complex aspect of exiting the building is to do with the technology rather than the editorial and programme teams. The technologists face a difficult problem, which they are currently working on, which is when do they move the crucial technology, and where.'

One of the other questions is about studio space. TVC houses 12 studios - and Studio One is the third-largest in Britain. Part of the discussion the BBC will have with potential purchasers of the site over the coming months will be whether there is an option which retains some, at least, of the studio space at a cost that makes it viable for the BBC to continue using it. Deverell says: 'The TVC studios are quite old and in terms of a future-facing business you have to have cost effective facilities. There is potential future use of TVC but there also alternatives. Studios and Post-Production have to look at all the options and make a choice.'

Craig White, head of Studios and Post Production's Television Centre operation said: 'We have continued to maintain and invest in the studios at Television Centre, which include four HD studios and the UK's first 3D capable studio. We are exploring and evaluating a number of strategic options around accommodation, including staying at Television Centre.'

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