bbc governors are to discuss today (Thursday) a strategy for dealing with its property portfolio into the next century. Among the specific proposals that may appear on their agenda is a design by Sir Norman Foster for a 'super newsroom' that could house hundreds of bbc journalists at London Bridge City.
This is Foster's third attempt to design a building for the bbc. First was his aborted scheme for Langham Place and then a sidelined commission at Bush House where the bbc asked him to prepare a feasibility study should the corporation decide to stay after the lease expires in 2005. It is understood that Foster's latest designs, for the finance company cit Markborough, are for a newsroom that would unite journalists from television, radio and the World Service. A bbc spokesperson confirmed that the architect is one of a number of consultants enlisted by developers and other private- sector companies 'to help them win our business'.
But the corporation's strategic plans are far from settled. Its property experts have spent more than a year preparing the '2020' strategic review of its properties - and the staff working in them. 'There are a whole lot of issues to resolve about central London,' the spokeswoman said. 'We have 18 different buildings, most on short-term leases. We need to look at rationalising the whole thing.'
Should the bbc decide to leave Bush House for Foster's super newsroom, an attractive central London site will be up for grabs. The London School of Economics, next door and pressed for space, is a possible contender.
At Bush House, following Foster's initial appointment, a subsequent plan to appoint Foster and Will Alsop to develop proposals did not proceed, said the spokeswoman, 'because we decided it was the wrong time. We needed to resolve the bigger issues.'