New Broadcasting House in central London took a decade to build.
It was opened by the Queen in 2013 at least £55million over budget.
But the BBC has now admitted it ‘occasionally’ runs out of meeting rooms.
Built at a cost of £1 billion, New Broadcasting House is the jewel in the crown of the BBC and the setting for its self-mocking satire W1A.
But in a development that could have come straight out of the sitcom, it has been revealed that the Corporation is paying tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to book meetings in nearby buildings because the headquarters lacks space. New Broadcasting House in Central London covers half a million square feet, took a decade to build and was opened by the Queen in 2013 – four years behind schedule and at least £55 million over budget.
Now, in response to a freedom of information request, the BBC has admitted it ‘occasionally’ runs out of meeting rooms and spent £47,198 on booking external spaces nearby during the last financial year. Corporation insiders say these venues include De Vere’s West One business centre and the luxury Langham Hotel – both just across the street from New Broadcasting House – and that meetings have included ‘leadership breakfasts’.
One source said: ‘The leadership breakfasts at De Vere are renowned for the lavish catering. The BBC is cutting jobs but can still afford to cater for breakfast meetings for senior managers.’
Another said: ‘It’s bonkers to hold meetings across the street.’ The BBC has been criticised by spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) over the running costs of New Broadcasting House, which are almost double that of comparable buildings in Central London. A BBC spokesman said: ‘It is occasionally necessary to book nearby venues, especially for larger meetings. Value for money is always taken into account.’ But Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said licence fee-payers would be furious over spiralling costs.
New Broadcasting House is home to three 24-hour news channels, nine radio networks and 6,000 staff.