5,000 new BBC TV centre and White City homes go on sale creating London's biggest new neighbourhood

The home of iconic BBC shows, from Doctor Who to Strictly Come Dancing, stars in the transformation of 145 acres of west London into 5,000 new homes.
From October, home buyers will be able to own a slice of television history when flats at the BBC’s former White City headquarters go on sale. Developers want to create an area to equal nearby Notting Hill and Holland Park — a real challenge in this unrelentingly urban district, with dual carriageways and train tracks that make it a city planner’s nightmare. This uninviting commercial zone could soon be west London’s biggest new district.

With prices starting at £500,000, the launch marks a new era for Television Centre, a bold example of mid-century modern architecture.

For the next six weeks, Studio 1 —  a cavernous space where countless programmes including Doctor Who, Blue Peter, Fawlty Towers, Morecambe & Wise, Top of the Pops and Strictly Come Dancing came to life — will be a marketing centre. Specially made circular pods will display models and mock-ups of the finished flats and their Fifties-retro interiors, that will be part of a project that should be complete within 10 years.


It is a milestone in the transformation of 145-acre White City, with £8 billion of investment bringing more than 5,000 homes, a Harvard-style campus of academic excellence, a media village, an expanded Westfield shopping mall and the largest-ever John Lewis department store. There will be landscaped public space and upgraded transport links.

The old 14-acre BBC campus of buildings dating back to the Fifties is being redeveloped by property company Stanhope into a new neighbourhood of 950 homes — including 142 “affordable” flats (15 per cent of the total development) — offices, a Soho House hotel and private members club with a rooftop swimming pool, plus cafés, restaurants and a cinema.

The first 450 homes are being created within the listed circular-shaped block, decades ago dubbed “the  doughnut”. This iconic building has a round courtyard featuring the famous statue of Helios, the Greek sun god, symbolising the radiation of television around the world.

Surrounding this central ring are original studios, scenery blocks and engineering areas, some being refitted before they are handed back to the BBC in 2017. When viewed from the air, the form of the entire complex resembles a question mark, the inspiration of architect Graham Dawbarn, who doodled the shape on the back of an envelope — now stored in BBC archives — when pondering the original design and decided that would be an ideal layout.

It was the world’s first custom-built studio complex for television and radio, designed with 400 offices for 3,000 people, dressing rooms for 600 artists, seven studios, wardrobe space for 16,000 items, laundry rooms, hair salon, make-up and wig-making departments, script and music libraries, band rehearsal room and phone exchange.

The doughnut block measures 500 feet in diameter, with walls 2ft 6in thick, and has a basement area covering three-and-a-half acres, part of which is to become a subterranean spa and health club for residents.

One-bedroom flats cost from £650,000 and prices rise to £7 million for a penthouse with terrace. This equates to £1,000-£1,300 per square foot. Most of the affordable homes will be sold to local people, at 75 per cent below market value, plus there will be 10 affordable rented units.

A new crescent of flats will wrap around the “doughnut” homes, with gardens in between, while the original Television Centre “stage door” entrance with its prized abstract mosaic murals will form a concierge lobby. An original rotunda will be a residents’ amenity space.

The first phase of development will be complete in December 2017, by which time Television Centre will again be buzzing 24/7 — and for the first time, it will not be off-limits to the public. The previously closed-off compound is being opened up at the front, with new landscaped areas the size of five football pitches, while at the rear there will be a green pedestrian route to four-acre Hammersmith Park, with its  Japanese gardens of ponds, stone bridges and waterfalls.

Potential buyers can register their interest online at televisioncentre.com, or make an appointment by calling  020 7318 4677.

White heat in west London
White City began life as a single ambitious project — to house The Franco-British Exhibition of 1908 — and takes its name from the white marble-clad pavilions and mini-palaces that were built for the impressive public fair. It hosted the Olympic Games that same year, and after the Second World War it became the British Broadcasting Corporation’s spiritual home — even though it was surrounded by distribution depots and industrial estates.

Hammersmith & Fulham council’s masterplan seeks to tame the impact of the roaring roads and railway lines by “greening” them and weaving together the various strips of land to provide improved public spaces and create pedestrian routes to local train stations. 

Westfield started the regeneration ball rolling with its giant shopping mall, and the company has started work on a second phase that will bring 1,347 new homes and the John Lewis department store, opening in 2017.

Developer St James is bulldozing a Marks & Spencer warehouse to build a 1,465-home, 10-acre neighbourhood called White City Green. The company has started a community consultation with local residents and is participating in design workshops, with ideas being submitted by local secondary school students.
Mid-century chic: a three-bedroom flat at Television Centre in classic Fifties style

Time to link up
Local people have said they would benefit from an easier route to Westfield and Wood Lane Tube station, so a new bridge and “green” pedestrian deck is being built over the above-ground tracks of the Central line, while blocked-up railway arches are being punched through. Thirty per cent of the homes in the new scheme are said to be affordable.

Patel Taylor, the scheme’s architects, have come up with a “Living in the Park” concept to create a central green to run through the development and also connect to the Imperial College campus to the north.

The university is investing £3 billion in a world-class research and innovation centre, where commerce and science meet. The 25-acre campus will straddle both sides of the A40, a key “townscaping” objective, and bring 11 new futuristic-looking buildings, with 1,150 homes clustered around two public squares. Accommodation blocks for 500 postgraduates are already complete.

Managing director of Stanhope, Alistair Shaw, says the aim at Television Centre is to stitch the site back into the local area. Stanhope has also bought a 17-acre plot that will become White City Place, with up to 1.5 million square feet of offices.

The aim is to attract buyers who previously stopped their search at Shepherd’s Bush roundabout. But they will have to wait for 10 years’ worth of construction dust to settle before the vision becomes clear.

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