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BBC Birmingham's £50M Development: Is This Digbeth's Big Break?


The BBC is now mulling initial developer bids to build a new £50M Birmingham base, and it could be going to Digbeth.

The invitation to tender, which insisted on responses before Christmas, implies the corporation is leaving its 100K SF base at the Mailbox mixed-use development soon after the June 2026 lease expiry.

Developers are being invited to provide premises for 22 years plus two 12-month extensions.

Although the tender document is titled “property developer” the document identifies “construction project management services” as the main subject.

Local speculation has suggested this means the BBC has yet to decide whether to leave the Mailbox, and BBC sources have said that options remain open. But the extent of the ambition and the language used in the tender document suggested otherwise.

The 2026 launch date coincides with “clarity on the BBC’s sustainability strategy, the adoption of new hybrid working patterns, and wider technological changes,” the document said.

Attention is focussing on the Nikal-backed plan for the 30-acre Mercian Studios site, Digbeth.

The slow-moving proposals, first launched in 2019, have attracted interest from serious operators. In July 2021 Nikal Chairman Richard Fee said the proposal to mix studio and production facilities with media workspace and housing was “still very much alive.”

The proposal was launched by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and has long been associated with the BBC. Market-watchers were expecting an announcement about a media operator in early 2020, but the pandemic obscured further progress.