The BBC will sell and sublet its Media Village site in west London, which will now be known as White City Place, as part of ongoing plans to reduce the size and cost of BBC buildings. The corporation’s property footprint has reduced by around 40 per cent since 1998, equivalent to 35 football pitches’ worth of floor space.
Under the commercial terms agreed with Stanhope and Mitsui Fudosan, the BBC will receive £87 million for the sale of four acres of freehold land and the lease of six buildings, three of which will continue to be occupied by the BBC. The BBC will make £33 million of annual running cost savings.
The three buildings being vacated by the BBC – White City One, Media Centre and Garden House – will be refurbished and brought back to the market from late 2016. The buildings will provide a range of types and sizes of tenancies totalling around 600,000sqft.
The announcement is the latest in a series of property moves designed to save the BBC £75 million a year on property costs by 2017, an increase of £19 million from original targets. The BBC has upgraded to a smaller and more modern property. This has also increased the number of BBC staff now based outside of the capital to 54 per cent.
Anne Bulford, managing director of BBC finance and operation, described the announcement as “an excellent deal for licence fee payers. We will now save £75 million a year from prudent property management, meaning even more of the licence fee will go on what matters most to our audience – the programmes they love.”
David Camp, chief executive of Stanhope, added: “White City Place will become the commercial heart to White City. Together with Television Centre, we will be delivering close to two million sqft of office space and nearly 1,000 new homes over the next five years.
White City Place includes six main buildings: the White City One building, Media Centre and Garden House to be vacated by the BBC, and the Broadcast Centre, Energy Centre and Lighthouse to remain occupied by the BBC. Stanhope and Mitsui will undertake major landscaping and infrastructure works to White City Place, including the creation of gardens and plazas.
The deal is the latest step in a move away from west London by the BBC that began in 2011. The exit from Television Centre (pictured) last year alone raised £200 million and cut annual running costs by £30 million. The BBC vacated the White City One building of Media Village in March 2013 and began marketing the site with a view to securing best value for money.