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BBC shelves Olympic Park move

By Paul Norman - Thursday, September 15, 2011 7:00

The BBC has shelved talks to anchor the 940,000 sq ft London 2012 media centre in Hackney Wick with its Eastenders production after months of secret negotiations, CoStar News can reveal.

Sources familiar with the situation said that The Olympic Park Legacy Company, which is responsible for the centre post Games, has been holding off officially marketing the centre in anticipation of a deal to house the broadcaster in a large slice of the 640,000 sq ft broadcast element of the £355m complex. The talks are understood to have in part revolved around moving the Eastenders production from Elstree in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire to a home in the east end.

However, it is understood that the BBC has now intimated it will not be able to commit in the medium-term to the centre.

The BBC is currently selling its historic home at Television Centre in West London as it moves up to 5,000 staff out to Salford and the West End by 2015. However, it wants to retain significant space for broadcasting in the capital.

In anticipation that the deal is now not likely to go ahead, CB Richard Ellis has been re-engaged to market the centre, which Prime Minister David Cameron is keen to see become the centre of a hi-tech quarter stretching from the Old Street roundabout to the Olympic Park.

It is understood that the OPLC is keen that a number of other credible bids that have emerged are engaged with.

A consortium of fashion brands backed by Resolution Property has already expressed interest in turning the centre into a UK fashion hub, offering manufacturing and wholesaling facilities to London’s clothing industry from 2013 onwards.

CoStar can also reveal that sports retail giant Decathlon has expressed interest in creating a sporting retail hub, centre and academy at the site.

And Spanish company Micropolix is also understood to have expressed an interest. Micropolix opened a 100,000 sq ft theme park for children in Madrid in 2009.

The BBC said in a statement: “Eastenders is committed to Elstree and there are no plans to relocate any time soon. We are not currently in active negotiations with any party.”