Plans to transform the BBC’s iconic headquarters in Belfast in a £77 million project will benefit the organisation and the city centre it has been claimed.
Eighty years after the orginal plans for the studios on Ormeau Avenue were revealed, BBC Director ro General Tony Hall told staff the investment would create “a Broadcasting House fit for the digital age”.
As well as dealing with significant renovations and modifications to the building, the plans include establishing a ‘technology centre of excellence’, allowing BBC NI to take advantage of new and evolving technologies and to test new approaches for the whole of the organisation.
Belfast Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister praised the BBC for staying in the city centre and said the plan would “enhance Belfast’s growing reputation as a centre of excellence for media, and the creative and digital industries”.
“The decision to remain at their existing Ormeau Avenue site is a great boost for the city’s emerging Linen Quarter and, along with the Transport Hub and Weaver’s Cross proposals, heralds a bright future for this part of the city centre.
“A number of cities across the UK have reaped the rewards of regeneration in recent years thanks to similar investment by the BBC, and we look forward to working with the Corporation to maximise those benefits for Belfast residents in terms of jobs and training opportunities, both during the construction phase and in the longer term.”
The investment will also see improvements made to the Blackstaff studios on Great Victoria Street which is home to a wide range of popular shows.
It will also allow the broadcaster to optimise its current leading edge technology – such as the new state-of-the-art, hybrid BBC Newsline studio and renovated BBC Radio Ulster studios while remaining on the historical site which will continue as “a cultural destination for the whole community”.
“Eighty years ago, in spring 1938, the original plans for the first Broadcasting House were revealed,” said BBC NI director Peter Johnston.
“It’s fitting, that today, we announce this new investment by the BBC which will maintain and enhance our rich heritage and history on this site in exciting new ways well into the future.
“This major investment is a commitment to licence fee payers in Northern Ireland and will help us to become a more efficient and flexible broadcaster, better equipped to meet the needs of our diverse audience for years to come.”