The BBC has formally put its historic Television Centre building in west London on the market and will consider partnership deals as well as an outright sale.
The building contains most of the studios used to make BBC programmes in the post-war period, with shows as varied as Monty Python's Flying Circus and Blue Peter, Dr Who and Strictly Come Dancing. It occupies a 14-acre site directly opposite the Westfield shopping centre north of Shepherd's Bush.
The site has the potential for a 1.5 million square feet scheme that could have a gross development value of more than £500 million. The highest values will be in creating as much residential use as possible on the site, although the council will also want to see some employment uses remaining given the wider West London planning framework.
There has been interest already expressed informally from a wide rage of potential bidders and partners, including overseas wealth funds and domestic property companies, given an open brief that could see either a straight sale or a potential joint venture or fund structure for the redevelopment.
The BBC said: "Apart from a conventional sale, the corporation is keen to investigate opportunities for redeveloping Television Centre that preserve the key listed elements of the iconic building, but also afford the opportunity to establish a hub for creative businesses and a visitor destination."
It added that it was possible that existing BBC Studios and Post Production unit, which operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the corporation, could continue on the same site after a sale, depending on who the partners might be and whether a creative hub was deemed to be the best use of the land.
Chris Kane, the man in charge of the broadcaster's property strategy, said: "Our key objective is to maximise value to the BBC."
"With high investor demand for commercial property in London and a shortage of landmark sites as distinctive as Television Centre, we anticipate strong competition for both conventional and innovative proposals."
The BBC is facing financial hardship after agreeing with the government to cut at least 16 per cent from its spending by 2016, with a further four percentage points of cuts likely to come on top of that.
BBC Television Centre opened in 1960 and currently houses the major television production units and BBC News, including radio studios for programmes such as Today on Radio 4 and BBC Radio Five Live.
This divestment was well signalled by the BBC, which has spent more than £1 billion in a large expansion and refurbishment of its Broadcasting House building in the city centre. The first announcement of an intention to sell the listed building was made in 2007, when it was valued between £100 million and £200 million.
The design of the building, the centre of which is known as The Doughnut to staff, was literally drawn on the back of an envelope, in a pub, by architect Graham Dawbarn.
According to internal legend, he drew the triangular shape of the site on the envelope and then a question mark inside it.
After a few moments, he realised that the shape of the question mark was in fact an ideal one for a configuration of studios, production offices and dressing rooms.
Parts of the building were given Grade II listed status in 2009, a move that complicated the BBC's sale plans. Its original move to sell the site was delayed by the property downturn that followed the financial crisis.
Use of the building has changed over recent years. For instance, no drama series have been made there since 1994.
The BBC is mandated by its royal charter to move more staff out of London and has recently signed a deal to move about 1,200 people to MediaCity, UK, a development in Salford, Greater Manchester.
From / Gulf News