MediaCityUK - BBC's new home in the North
The BBC's digital city - MediaCityUK at Salford - is the wonderful new home for the BBC in the North.
This week marks another milestone for Workplace as we take delivery of another of the office buildings at the development - three weeks ahead of schedule!
As I consider what we're trying to achieve in Salford it prompted me to think about how it fits into our overall game plan. Salford is different. It is different both in the impetus behind it and in the way it is financed.
Unlike Pacific Quay and Broadcasting House, Salford is not primarily driven by the desire to make savings. Of course the project will save the BBC money over the course of its life. But the BBC embarked on Salford out of an urgent need to reconnect with Northern audiences.
In 2006, Salford Quays emerged as the clear winner from a shortlist of four possible new locations, but it took another twelve months for the BBC to conclude negotiations and satisfy itself that the deal was value for money. Salford Quays is a 200-acre area of former dockland on the Manchester Ship Canal a couple of miles west of the centre of Manchester. It is being developed under the title MediaCityUK and is the result of the BBC working with other public sector partners to develop the concept of a Media Enterprise Zone - a sustainable creative community with the BBC as a catalyst attracting other similar organisations onto the site. Between 2,300 and 2,500 BBC staff will work there - about 1,500 of the posts will be transferred from London and the rest will come from existing BBC bases in Manchester, which will be closed. Ultimately the other members of the partnership (Peel Holdings, Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company, Salford City Council and the North West Regional Development Agency) hope that up to 15,000 new jobs will be created off the back of the BBC project.
The BBC will rent three buildings and use technical space in a separate studio block, also available to other users. The BBC will start to take occupation of the buildings in late 2010. The studio block will come on stream in January 2011 and the move of staff will be completed by the end of 2011. The development work is being carried out by Peel Holdings who own the site and from whom the BBC will rent the buildings on a 20-year lease starting in 2010.
One of the big benefits of this contract - a lesson learned from Broadcasting House - is a very clear focus by the developer and contractor on meeting construction deadlines, since they bear the costs of any failure to do so.
The MediaCityUK project is designed to deliver a range of benefits to audiences, staff, the BBC, the media industry and the North of England:
- Benefits to the audience: A highly visible BBC centre that audiences will visit and interact with, that enables the production of content that reflects the life of the region.
- Benefits to staff: The project has ambitious goals for those who work there - to be the best place to work in the industry; to change the culture and working practices of the staff who move there; to develop a different tone and style; to have more flexible employment policies and practices, and to have an innovative and flexible relationship between the organisation and the individual.
- Benefits to the BBC: The BBC parts of MediaCityUK aim to be a catalyst and a benchmark for change across the BBC that help to deliver Creative Future goals and offer clear value for money to licence fee payers. On the site the BBC will sit alongside suppliers, distributors and potential collaborators, creating an environment conducive to establishing the partnerships necessary for the BBC to continue to thrive in a post-switchover world.
- Benefits to the Media Industry and the North of England: MediaCityUK is envisaged as a substantial creative centre outside London, attracting media players beyond the BBC to work in collaborative partnerships that build the competitiveness of the media industry as a whole and has a major impact on the economy of the North West and the wider North of England.
Unlike Pacific Quay and Broadcasting House, the BBC is playing no part in raising the capital for the Salford project. In line with the Creative Future theme of 'Simplicity', the three new buildings will be held on a straightforward 20-year lease. Responsibility for the delivery of the new space lies with the developer, Peel Holdings.