BBC announce £48million investment for BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast
The BBC has announced a major technology upgrade of its BBC Northern Ireland operations to meet the future needs of audiences
The BBC’s iconic Broadcasting House headquarters in Belfast will also be refurbished to enable new ways of working for staff and the wider creative sector.
On a visit to Broadcasting House in Belfast, BBC Director General Tim Davie announced the £48 million investment, which will focus on critical technology and infrastructure improvements to the listed building.
Plans for a more extensive redevelopment of the site were announced in 2018, and received planning permission in 2019. These were paused in early 2020 due to the pandemic and have since been reviewed. The new plans which focus on delivering best value for money, include:
Updating and upgrading broadcast technology, equipment and production spaces to ensure the BBC in Northern Ireland can continue to deliver quality content for all audiences. This technology refresh will be the main focus of the investment and will enable the delivery of content into the future from BBC NI and the local independent sector. It includes investment in a new outside broadcast vehicle, and a more agile broadcast fleet.
More than just an office space, BBC Broadcasting House will be reshaped as an open, creative hub for staff and the wider creative sector. The refurbished workspaces will facilitate more collaboration, both between BBC NI staff, and a range of external partners and stakeholders. The building refresh will ensure spaces are fit for more flexible ways of working.
The rear of the site will be opened up and a publicly accessible plaza area will be provided in line with Belfast City Council’s vision for the wider regeneration of the Linen Quarter, where BH Belfast is located.
Staff working more flexibly between the office and home, less travel between BBC bases, and investment in more efficient vehicles will provide environmental benefits.
Tim Davie, BBC Director-General said:
“The investment we are making in Northern Ireland will ensure we can continue to deliver for audiences in Northern Ireland and across the UK. This is a great opportunity, at a time when the workplace is evolving faster than ever, to refresh our iconic building and make it a place for collaboration for BBC teams and the wider creative community.”
Peter Johnston, Director BBC NI, said:
“This investment is a major commitment for audiences in Northern Ireland. The enhanced broadcast technology and production spaces will ensure we can best serve audiences, both here and across the UK, into the future.
“As we reviewed the previous plans over the past year, we have been listening to our staff, engaging with the creative sector, and also learning lessons from how we, and other businesses, responded to the Covid 19 pandemic. This project will future-proof the work environment and technology for our staff and harness the opportunity to create a BBC in Northern Ireland which is focussed on being collaborative and creative embracing new ways of working for everyone who uses our building.”
The updated plans do not include a linking building between the three existing blocks in BBC Broadcasting House.
BBC NI considered a number of options to meet its ongoing and future requirements, including relocating to a different site and building a new broadcasting centre. Investing in its existing freehold site provides the best value for money, enabling it to refresh the building in response to flexible working and technology and staff requirements in the most cost-effective manner
Investing in Broadcasting House will enable BBC NI to refresh its future technology and engineering upgrades as they are needed. It will mean that it can take advantage of key developments in the media technology industry as they arise.
BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast opened in 1941. Additional buildings were added in the 1970s and 1980s. The last substantial refurbishment was in the 1980s.