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A&M wins go-ahead for BBC's £200m White City revamp

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Allies and Morrison Architects has won planning consent for its giant BBC development at the corporation's White City site in west London. The 131,000m 2proposal for a series of broadcasting and office buildings was given the green light last week by Hammersmith and Fulham council, while a further application is still to be made for a new music centre.

Final contract terms have yet to be agreed between the BBC and preferred bidder Land Securities, although the total development costs will be in the order of £200 million. The scheme forms an attempt to create a 'media village' around the corporation's headquarters, which is unpopular with staff. Also introduced is a new 'street', with shops and cafes, which the site currently lacks.

The development will also include a new set of smaller buildings, to be rented out to independent programme makers and producers by the BBC.

Meanwhile, A&M is working on designs for a new office for itself. The practice now employs 130 staff, nearly twice the number which worked for it in the mid '90s. Currently renting space in five different premises (including engineer Whitby Bird), Bob Allies is leading a team to design purposebuilt premises on land acquired by the practice in Southwark, near Tate Modern. 'This allows us to bring everyone together again, ' said Allies. 'It also gives us the chance to do more experimental things which we wouldn't necessarily offer a client.'

Planned for a 'difficult' site which once accommodated a petrol station, the scheme will include excavation to basement level and construction of a four-storey building as a showcase for the practice's work. A glass-fronted facade is to be covered in timber fins and topped by a wire mesh, which will fence off a rooftop terrace. A series of elevated gardens is planned for the back of the building.

Allies was attracted by the site because of its proximity to Tate Modern and to a couple of Land Securities-owned office blocks. The developer and architect are currently in discussion about replacing the 1960s office buildings. (See John Smith profile, pages 22-23. )

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