BBC to close iconic Maida Vale studios and move music base to east London site

The broadcaster has said the run-down facility, located in a residential area in north London, was "wholly unsuitable for the 21st century"
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An artist's impression of the new site in Stratford

An artist's impression of the new site in Stratford

The BBC has revealed that it is to close its iconic Maida Vale Studios and move its live music base to Stratford, east London.

The world-famous studios in north London have played host to many stars since it was acquired by the BBC in the 1930s, including The Beatles, Radiohead and Adele.

Director general Tony Hall announced the closure in an email to staff on Tuesday morning, saying the move means the BBC will "be able to record and broadcast more live music than ever before.”

The BBC hopes to relocate most of Maida Vale's functions to the Olympic Park in Stratford, in a move expected to be ready by 2022. Maida Vale also played host to the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, famed for its realisation of the Doctor Who theme tune, which closed shop in 1996.

The studios have been under regular threat of closure - with the BBC announcing in 2007 that the run-down facility, located in a residential area in north London, was "wholly unsuitable for the 21st century".

Built in 1909, the building has asbestos within its walls, meaning it is costly to refurbish. In recent years, it has also survived several attempts by developers to turn the place into luxury apartments.

Maida Vale studios in 2016

Maida Vale studios in 2016

"I understand how much our musical heritage at Maida Vale means to us, to artists and to audiences," said Tony Hall in his note to staff.

"We haven't taken this decision lightly. But we're determined to ensure that live music remains at the heart of the BBC and moving to this new development gives us the opportunity to do just that."

As part of its new presence in east London, the BBC will run music sessions in local schools and connect with music hubs, as well as making digital music resources available to schools everywhere. The BBC will also partner with local education groups on other music projects.

Locating its popular music recording studios in Stratford will help establish the area as a music destination. BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Asian Network, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and BBC Introducing will all curate and broadcast performances regularly from the site.

The BBC will hold events outdoors in the new cultural quarter and at local venues as well as studio recording workshops, with BBC Proms activity making an impact in the area.

Added James Purnell, director of radio and education: “This proposed new building will act as a magnet for music development in east London and will allow us to share our music facilities and expertise with local, diverse communities as well as being a much better place for our brilliant music staff to work from.”

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