BBC puts landmark Television Centre up for sale

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The BBC has put its landmark Television Centre up for sale and said it is looking for a deal which will "maximise the value" for the corporation and licence fee-payers.

The 14-acre site in White City, west London, is currently home to around 5,000 employees but will be empty by 2015 after staff have moved to other sites including MediaCity in Salford and Broadcasting House.

A spokesman for the corporation said: "The BBC is seeking expressions of interest from the market for either a conventional, freehold property sale or alternative proposals possibly based around a joint venture partnership.

"The key objective for any sale or partnership is to maximise the value of the site to the BBC and licence fee-payers."

The BBC originally announced it wanted to sell the building, which opened in 1960, in 2007.

The main circular building, known to staff as the doughnut, was given Grade II listed status by English Heritage in 2009.

Among the shows recorded in its studios are Fawlty Towers, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Blue Peter, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing.

The site is also home to the Blue Peter garden, which will be relocated to a studio roof at the Salford site.

Richard Deverell, W12 programme director, said: "Television Centre has played an extraordinary and central role in the history of the BBC, which will not be forgotten.

"Our primary aim of the sale is to maximise the value to the BBC and licence fee-payer whilst ensuring the teams and operations based there are successfully relocated."

The corporation, which said it would not comment on the site's potential value for "commercial" reasons, said it would consider offers from "all possible sources".

Chris Kane, head of BBC Workplace, said: "The market will decide what the level is."

He added that a sale or possible joint venture could include the site being turned into residential units.

Mr Kane said the BBC was also looking at ideas to "leverage the iconic nature of the building", raising the possibility of it being turned into a visitor attraction.

He said raising money from the sale was the "primary consideration but not the sole consideration".

The BBC committed itself to saving billions of pounds from its budget when it launched the Putting Quality First process.

It has committed to reducing the pay bill of senior managers and the number of senior managers, while Director-General Mark Thompson has admitted it might lose some of its top stars as pay is cut for on-screen talent.

A deal was agreed last year to freeze the licence fee for six years at £145.50, equivalent to a 16% budget cut in real terms.