BBC White City, development of Luxury flats, Sheltered Housing and Corporation Tax

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Re: BBC White City, development of Luxury flats, Sheltered Housing and Corporation Tax

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,
I could not help noticing that the FOI address is part of the new White City Media Village development at Wood Lane, London W12 7TP , I am informed by The Times; ‘Property section’ - as as having being valued at over £33 million. I would have presumed it is worth far more, but early days....

With new luxury flats costing upwards of £2.4 million each, the development in this nostalgic BBC development for this part of West London was indeed dire for many years - well before the BBC Television Centre was built, as it was part of the 1908 Summer Olympics site and shared alongside a Greyhound and Speedway track (The White City Stadium) for many years alongside the BBC itself. The area was relatively cheap and run down before the BBC took tenancy.

The BBC ‘acquired’ the site land eventually in 1985 but there is no indication of a purchase being made. It was therefore bought at nominal cost or gifted by HMG on behalf of taxpayers.
This would be most helpful to indicate a public record of this White City ‘acquisition’ being made. On what basis did the BBC before that time have rights to the White City land?
The original Olympics White City site was it appears (I may be wrong) gift donated by HMG to rehouse the newly established BBC after the 1908 Olympics it was then derelict and that makes sense for the taxpayer. The White City site was not made initially for the BBC to sell off or to redevelop unless something changed. This was ‘acquired’ from the taxpayer over a period of time. The BBC may have ‘acquired’ the freehold rights to sell ex-government tax funded buildings, since the 1908 Summer Olympics. Its was not therefore a BBC asset to sell originally without the taxpayer being considered. There is no public record of that.
The White City BBC TVHQ development offers no ‘sheltered housing’.

During the new BBC development planning in 1996; The BBC had a legal requirement to offer ‘sheltered housing’ in any private development. This BBC development has none. This is very timely and convenient due to the Cameron/Clegg government had abolished the private developer clause of affordable housing requirements (called Section 106)*. Up to that point the BBC would have had to consider implementing by law ‘sheltered housing’ in this development. The BBC can claim that this was no longer necessary and yet it must have been considered at planning stage.

*The Housing Act (1996) was established to provide 10% of any new development for Social Housing. Although the BBC were highly enthusiastic of the scheme for ‘other’ private developers elsewhere, but when it was no longer a key HMG requirement it was never mentioned by the BBC again on its own development at White City. The Social Housing Clause was dropped according to The Guardian, with Shelter predicting dire consequences of its removal. The Guardian is the Bible of the BBC, so it is a surprise that the BBC felt this was a ‘private’ matter so The Guardian never mentioned that the BBC as a ‘private developer’ and had no intention of offering ‘Social Housing’ on its own portfolio. The £33 million profits claimed by the BBC will have ‘NO” sheltered Housing at all. Despite the BBC claiming that ‘other’ developers should be compelled to do so (broadcast at the same time on TV and Radio). The loss of Social housing developments in this area was never questioned, although it would have had to be discussed by the BBC in this private gated development.

> No Corporaton tax payable on this development. Profits the BBC.
The BBC also pays NO CORPORATION tax (unlike other private developers and private media owners). Not-with-standing that Private developers would have to pay UK Corporation Tax on all its declared profits, the BBC does not (by law) have to pay any Corporation Tax (at all) on any such development or disposal. This may be a private development but the BBC own the land. The BBC must have discussed this and decided it was not in the public interest to know who benefits from the development.

It is rather dishonest to not give anything back to the taxpayer. All you had to do was pay tax on earnings and offer 10% Sheltered Housing to local people. Even a local Library or Media school would have sufficed. But this is a purely private development...

By recent press reports this development is a huge £8 Billion development, now run by BBC ‘Studioworks limited’, a commercial subsidiary of the corporation. Therefore private and ‘limited’ not public and not open to FOI requests. However the BBC will earn £33 million directly from this private development alone. And then large parts of the estate are being leased out to other TV production companies. There can be no doubt the BBC are private developers.
And then the the UK taxpayer is left with nothing at all but memories.
This is an extract from TV Studio history by ex BBC staffers:
‘6: No consultation with the Licence-Fee Payers.
Those who decided to sell TV Centre were not its owners.  They were only temporary custodians.  Boris Johnson, during his tenure as Mayor of London, would not be expected to bulldoze Trafalgar Square and build flats on it.  Nor should a short-term Director General of the BBC have been allowed to sell a national landmark without consulting its true owners.  TV Centre was paid for by the License Fee Payers. They/we are its true owners.  The License Fee Payers are now expected to cover the billions that have been lost.  Yet they/we were never consulted.  (Nor were the staff or the Program Makers.)  It may be too late to prevent the financial squandering but it is not too late to demand a Public Enquiry into how this mismanagement occurred; to ask for full publication of the accounts; to name and shame the individuals responsible, and to take measures to reduce the ongoing waste.’

8: The creation of a near-monopoly.
Two of the studio centre likely to gain work from the closure of Television Centre, and therefore benefit financially, are Pinewood and Shepperton.  Their chairman is Michael Grade, who was chairman of the BBC until about a year before the closure of TV Centre was announced.  Pinewood and Shepperton are owned by The Peel Group (formerly Peel Holdings), who also own MediaCity at Salford Quays and are, therefore, the primary financial beneficiaries of the BBC's 'move to the North'.  The Peel Group also owns Teddington Studios, but intend to close them, thus reducing competition and driving more work to their other centers at Pinewood and Shepperton.  Personally, I suspect that the BBC's role in the creation of this near-monopoly is more cock-up than conspiracy.  But questions need to be asked.  Any enquiry should demand to know why BBC bosses have used License Fee Payers' money to give The Peel Group a disproportionate share of the market - particularly since this will be of benefit to a former BBC Chairman.  I note that during the BBC's evening of programmes about TV Centre, the primary spokesman supporting the closure, both on The One Show and on Goodbye Television Centre, was Michael Grade.  He did not declare his financial interest
11: The total absence of any reason to leave.
Maybe the strongest argument of all is simply that there is no rational reason for the BBC to leave Television Centre.  It is a colossal waste of Licence-Payers' money and a major disruption to programme makers which achieves nothing whatsoever.  The decision to leave seems to have been an obsessive, compulsive urge amongst certain members of the Senior Management team, most of whom have since been required to leave, clutching generous 'rewards for failure'.  The reasons that they have given for the move are listed below.  It will be seen that none of them bear much relation to reality.

This information under FOI is in the public interest as the public owned the land.
The word ‘acquired’ needs to be explained.

I note since: that the BBC Television Center is being hired out to private TV companies. The fact that one of those many private companies is the BBC itself. What a marvelous coincidence! Private companies are not required to answer FOI questions which is a big benefit for those who stand to benefit.

So who did pay for White City in 1908 to be ‘acquired’ by the BBC in 1985?
It is all a bit of a mystery... but an interesting one historically.

Yours faithfully,

Philp Searle

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Philp,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as detailed in your email below. Your request was received on 28/11/18. We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days. If you have any queries about your request, please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your request is RFI20182203.

Kind regards,

Information Rights

BBC Freedom of Information
BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP
Email: [BBC request email]

Tel: 020 8008 2882

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

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Dear Philp Searle,


Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20182203.


Yours sincerely,


Information Rights


BBC Freedom of Information

BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP


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