As the anchor tenant of the project the BBC aims to play a central part in helping local and regional development agencies create up to 15,000 jobs and a potential £1bn additional net value to the North’s economy over the next few years; and workspace for hundreds of media and related businesses. (Source: North West Development Agency).
Led by BBC North Director, Peter Salmon, the move is a major component of the BBC’s "Out-of-London" strategy to better serve and represent audiences and do even more to spread the BBC’s investment directly into the UK creative economy, currently running at over one billion pounds each year.
Building C – the biggest and first of three BBC office buildings – will be home to BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport and local and regional news and is being handed over ahead of schedule.
Work will now start on fitting-out Building C to create the network radio station and broadcasting facilities for the digital age, bringing together everything the BBC does on-air and online to support the best possible coverage of live news and live sport.
The handover marks a period of increasing momentum, as the project comes to life:
Peter Salmon and his team have started a major new drive to find the flagship BBC programmes and content of the future, that will help put Salford on the map. Alongside in-house operations, he and his deputy, Richard Deverell, will particularly encourage and support independent producers to come forward with new ideas for how the BBC can best serve our audiences right across the UK.
BBC staff relocation levels are much higher than the average for a major move – helping to reduce overall redundancy costs – but still providing several hundred new roles at the BBC site in the North of England.
2,800 people are now directly employed in MediaCityUK’s construction, the largest project outside the Olympic Park in London, of which more than 50% are from Greater Manchester and 75% are from the Northwest.
The BBC will be making significant long-term savings, which mean the impact of initial relocation is cost-neutral over 20 years, by sharing studios with other media organisations, by working from more efficient buildings, reducing staff costs (eg London weighting payments) and by harnessing the on-site high-speed broadband and HD technology rather than carrying out expensive upgrades to existing buildings.
Pioneering new partnerships with local schools, colleges and universities to provide career training in the creative industries and raise the aspirations of young people now emerging into the workplace. There are more than 50 learning organisations currently linked to the new BBC North development, and staff are helping mentor and nurture new talent.
Peter Salmon said: "This is the first, exciting step in rewiring the BBC in the North of England, helping us better spread the British public’s investment in the licence fee right across the UK, with the aim of making even better programmes and content that reflects their lives.
"Just as important, when our media industries are facing such tough times, this project can act as a catalyst for the renaissance of the creative economies across the North and create valuable new jobs in these tough times.
"Though there is still much work to do before we can broadcast and launch operations here in 2011, today we see that ambition taking physical shape, and the planning to deliver great new programmes that MediaCityUK will inspore."
Bryan Gray, Chairman of the developer Peel Media, said: "Together with our partners, we are building a new city at Salford Quays, bringing a renaissance to Manchester’s historic waterfront. Today’s building handover to the BBC is the first of many important milestones for MediaCityUK. We all look forward to delivering our shared ambitions of creative excellence, innovation and tangible benefits for the North of England and the wider UK media sectors."
Visiting Salford, BBC Trust Chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, said: "One of the Trust’s key aims for the BBC is that it serves all audiences regardless of location and background. And that ambition extends beyond what’s on our screens and radios. It means the BBC contributing to the cultural life and economic prosperity of communities across the length and breadth of the UK.
"The Salford project is an excellent example of the BBC doing just that. Today is a significant landmark in a project that will help regenerate an entire area and I hope, in time, act as a springboard for wider creative innovation in the North of England."
As part of the official handover a short fanfare was performed by four members of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra’s brass players, joined by members of their Salford Family Orchestra, plus young musicians from Salford’s Music Service.
The fanfare was specially composed by Peter Willmott, a double bass player for the Philharmonic Orchestra, who helped create the successful family orchestra, set up in partnership with the BBC Proms, which enabled over 70 amateur music lovers from Salford travel to London to perform on stage at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year.
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