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Property Assets Solds to Expand Business: ITV to Sell South Bank HQ

Property Assets Solds to Expand Business: ITV to Sell South Bank HQ

Southbank Commercial Property Sales

ITV has announced plans to permanently leave its London headquarters and to put the building up for sale in a transaction that analysts estimate could make the company as much as £245m.

The broadcaster initially left its longstanding headquarters on London’s South Bank last year on a temporary basis, in order to allow works for a five-year redevelopment scheme to go ahead. This October however, ITV’s new CEO Carolyn McCall announced that the group would be selling the site as part of a broader, new strategy to reduce costs by £35-£40m between 2019 and 2021.

ITV acquired the freehold of the South Bank premises from Coal Pension Nominees for £56m in 2013, after leasing the site for a number of decades. It is currently leasing offices in Holborn, whilst filming some in-studio programmes in West London studios owned by the BBC. A spokesperson for ITV stated that the move to sell off the site would support its “ambition to be an agile and increasingly digital organisation” and create “flexibility” in the company’s property portfolio in London.

TV group favours “modern, function, flexible” offices

The announcement marks a notable change in strategy for the TV network, which will see property assets exchanged for investment into expanding business.

In its last annual report, ITV outlined plans for “significant” expenditure on redeveloping its South Bank site into a much larger complex including retail and residential space alongside offices to be completed between 2021 and 2022.

Now however, the company appears to have decided that the development is not cost-effective, explaining in a statement:

“By remaining in our current London office and studio spaces we can focus more time and resource on the areas of business which will deliver the greatest value.”

The saved costs will be put towards offsetting the network’s plans to invest £60m in expanding online, pay-per-view and production operations in line with shifts in the media industry. The company has been located at the site for over forty years, buying up London Weekend Television which initially built the offices in 1969-72.

Its championing of “modern, functional and flexible working environments” follows a pattern of increasingly agile and flexible workspaces being developed in the UK market, with British Land launching a flexible office arm, called Storey, last year. In addition to its London studios and offices, ITV operates premises in Manchester and Leeds as well as holding multiple newsrooms across the country.

Site comes with planning permission for multi-purpose redevelopment

Demand for commercial property on the South Bank has risen considerably in the five years since ITV bought the site.

In August, advertising group WPP announced plans to move to the South Bank after over thirty years of leasing headquarters in Mayfair.

The decision to sell comes just months after ITV was given planning permission by Lambeth Council to redevelop the building into a much larger multi-purpose complex, featuring a 31 storey tower including residential, office, studio and retail spaces. The approval will likely add to the sale value of the site substantially.

213 apartments and 44,434 sq m of office space were included in the original proposals, which attracted criticism from conservationists who argued that the new development would mar the predominantly low-rise landscape of the South Bank.

Twentieth Century Society campaigners stated that the “impenetrable frontage” would undermine the value of a popular “riverside location that is successful and significant due to its permeability and sense of openness.”

Lambeth Council however noted that the proposed construction was “comparable in height” to “existing buildings” nearby, adding that the offices in fact would have a “reduced visual impact by comparison” due to being “significantly set back from the River Thames with a dense green screen in front.”

Any revised developments pursued by a new owner on the 2.5 acre plot may well take advantage of the property’s permission to develop a mixture of residential and commercial units.

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