How the BBC’s move to Media City UK, has transformed the North

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In 2011 the BBC moved around 3000 of their employees from London to Media City UK in Salford, Greater Manchester. This has had an overwhelming effect on the city of Manchester in many aspects, notably employment and housing.


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As a freelance screenwriter who moved from Manchester to London in 2011 I couldn’t help but be slightly irked by the timing of their departure. I wondered if I was a curse, as I waved goodbye to BBC departments that could have provided me with jobs, like BBC Children’s, Radio 5 live, BBC Sport, and parts of Drama and Comedy. 


Whilst this hasn’t helped my job prospects, it has boosted those of the people around Greater Manchester, not to mention a surge in house prices. The Guardian reports that property prices in Salford have risen by more than any other town in the UK since the start of 2014. The influx of the BBC and other broadcasters like ITV to the waterfront development seems to have sparked this.


So far in 2014 the average value of a home in Salford has increased to £138,619. This is an increase of 12%, or nearly £15,000, according to the property website Zoopla. House prices in London have gone up by a less impressive 8.2% so far this year.


The BBC is keen to invest more of the license fee in programmes and less in their property estate. Around 200 jobs within Future Media and Technology are also heading over to MediaCity UK in Salford. Multiple teams who worked out of Media Village, London are dispersing to places like Salford and Birmingham in an effort to strengthen their presence outside of London.


With the north-south divide providing a regular topic for banter amongst groups of friends, I feel that the Northerners are sitting back happily about the recent boost to the Manchester area. Business Owners seem similarly optimistic.


Nigel Papworth, owner of Refinery said, “It is creating new employment, the growth of many small support businesses and networks, but most important in times like these, it represents the most confident endorsement of the cities successful future.


So, the BBC’s move to Salford has been much more than a PR exercise. It has demonstrated a real faith in the new talent and expertise outside of the capital. It will also drive new talent towards creative industries and University courses around Manchester. It will also start to change the mind-set of students, like me, who thought moving to London was the only real option for a creative graduate.


Perhaps I’ll move to Manchester someday, and then if the BBC relocates back to London, I will know that it was about avoiding me all along.


Written by Martin Stocks | @Stocks1986












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