TVC - a place to work, live and stay

Artist's impression of Television Centre after redevelopment Artist's impression of Television Centre after redevelopment

Television Centre of the future will be recognisably the TVC we know and love, with its listed parts preserved, its question mark design respected but with its ugly bits demolished.

On Tuesday staff got their first glimpse of the 'masterplan' for the site, which will be reborn as a place to live, work, socialise and, crucially, make television programmes.

It will become a place that the BBC will share with residents, other companies and visitors, who will be able to walk or drive through to the streets and Hammersmith Park beyond.

Studio audiences will be welcomed in and encouraged to use the new restaurants and cafes - even the boutique hotel in the doughnut around Helios Plaza.

And those looking for an out of the ordinary place to live might want to consider the 1000 or so new homes that will grow up around the Plaza and elsewhere on the site, ranging from luxury flats to affordable housing.

It all represents the joint vision of the BBC and Stanhope PLC, which bought Television Centre from the corporation last July.

Strictly's return

The BBC retains the freehold and has insisted that tv production continues at the iconic broadcasting centre, which opened in 1960.

BBC Studios and Post Production has taken out a 15 year lease on Studios 1, 2 and 3 from 2015. The studio structures will remain the same, but they will be refurbished within and equipped with the latest technology. Big shows, like Strictly, are expected to be back at TVC (after their exodus to Elstree) by 2015.

Cafes and restaurants at TVC of the future Visitors will be invited to use cafes and restaurants

Actors and performers will benefit from additional dressing rooms in the basement - together with the option of a bed at the hotel - while members of the public are promised an 'improved' experience when they attend BBC shows.

Gone will be the days of endless queuing, herding and penning in as visitors negotiate each security line; instead, they will enter into the heart of the site and be invited to have a coffee or meal at one of the establishments expected to open on the lower floor of Stage 5 and the ground floor of the Helios area. A cinema and health club are also mooted.

Make a weekend of it

Visitors may wish to make a weekend of their visit to Wood Lane, taking in a BBC show, dinner on site, Westfields and a night in TVC's new hotel.

S&PP staff have expressed some concern over the practicalities of running a profitable business - which demands fast turnaround in the studios - in the middle of a residential zone. They're worried that, without a dedicated service road, the articulated lorries that transport the sets will be restricted to daytime hours to avoid disturbing residents.

The issue has been recognised; already, it's been decided that the studio storage facility in Ariel Way will be shifted next to the studios. This will mean that sets can be struck and stored during the night, then transported during the day.

Studios 4-8 will not survive the transition - they are to be taken down and replaced with a residential ring.

Three storey terraced houses will be built on the site of Dodd's Yard, Scenery Block and the associated car park area, while a mansion block (consisting mainly of two bedroom flats) will replace Design Building. Luxury three bedroom flats will be created in the ring around Helios.

East Tower

The much maligned East Tower will be razed to the ground - to cheers from BBC Children's, no doubt - and rebuilt as an elegant residential block. The building will be reoriented to be side on to TVC, and its current 17 floors may rise to around 25.

Meanwhile, the multi-storey car park in Wood Lane will make way for 'affordable' homes, likely to constitute 10-15% of the total provision. Five hundred new car parking spaces will be created below Studios 4-8.

North and South Halls will be 'sympathetically upgraded' and will become entrances to the hotel and flats.

Stage 6, meanwhile, has almost said farewell to BBC News, which has all but moved into its new home at New Broadcasting House.

The refurbishment of Stage 6 will begin in June with a view to creating a light, clear space for its new residents - BBC Worldwide, which has taken out a 25 year lease on its new headquarters and plans to move in at the end of 2014.

Stages 4 and 5 will be gutted and reborn as business spaces, aimed at media and creative companies with around 15-20 employees.

Staff who viewed the exhibition in TVC's reception seemed impressed with the plans, which are sympathetic both to the history and to contemporary needs, but are sad to leave a building which has witnessed so many broadcasting landmarks.

Stanhope/BBC are asking for their feedback on the proposals, which will form the basis of a planning application to be submitted in April.


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