In our commitment to reducing the size of our estate by 30 per cent by 2015, and in particular consolidating the London portfolio, we have surrendered the lease on our Marylebone High Street (MHS) premises.
This is a major success given that there were 59 years unexpired on the lease of these premises which would have left the BBC with a liability of some £340m over the remaining term.
Leaving MHS came onto the agenda as part of ensuring the BBC made the best use of the new Broadcasting House (BH) development. It was concluded that existing occupiers could be housed elsewhere and we could dispose of this space. Accordingly the main user, BBC London, moved out of MHS and into BH. This was achieved over a year ago.
Since then we have been looking to assign or sub-let the premises which is not always easy and would have left the BBC with the ongoing liability for the lease – not an ideal solution or a clean exit by any means.
Happily the BBC was able to agree with the building owners that it would make sense to surrender the lease, thereby extinguishing all future liabilities.
All this ultimately helps the BBC deliver better value to licence fee payers.