Lend an ear to idea for new radio base

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A vacant unit near Dunstable’s Grove Theatre could become the new base for BBC Three Counties Radio, if the station presses ahead with the idea.

The lease on the station’s base in Hastings Street, Luton, is due to expire.

Now the team is looking at other options – including possibly moving to a modern unit in the Grove Park complex.

A planning application has been submitted by the BBC to Central Beds Council.

The application is asking for a planning permission condition to be varied to allow Unit 4 to be used for broadcast studios and ancillary uses.

And a planning statement on behalf of the broadcaster states: “The BBC intends to use this unit as broadcast studios, with two studios and an operations room located in the central part of the unit.

“A newsroom, TV area, band area and creative working and staff area will also be located on the ground floor.”

Kitchen and toilet facilities would be at the back of the unit.

A proposed mezzanine area would provide room for a workshop tech store, media store and apparatus room, along with a private office, formal meeting rooms, staff lockers, showers and additional toilets.

The planning statement says the BBC base would “add to the character which is being developed at Grove Park as a new leisure quarter”.

It goes on: “The introduction of the broadcast studios will bring the currently vacant unit into use, and add further vitality and interest to the area.

“The proposed use by the BBC is not in conflict with other adjoining uses which have been approved or the uses previously approved for Unit 4.”

The statement says that the BBC is aware of a current planning condition which says that no external loudspeaker systems are to be installed without prior written approval from planners.

Another condition says plant, machinery and equipment must not cause noise and vibration to “any neighbouring premises and places of public resort”.

The planning statement says: “The BBC is aware of the need to comply with both of these conditions and will do so should the current application be approved and implemented.

“As broadcast studios, it is important that when broadcasting there is no external noise which would adversely impact on the broadcast, and conversely the standards which the BBC will be applying to exclude external noise will ensure that sounds generated within the studios will be contained within the

A BBC spokeswoman told the Gazette this week: “The current building lease of BBC Three Counties Radio in Luton is due to expire, so other options are being explored.”

The team at BBC Three Counties Radio includes 37 staff members, both full-time and part-time.

No final decision has been made by the BBC on where the radio station should be based in the future.

The BBC is looking at the best way to serve its audience, while delivering the best value for money.

If the station did move to the complex, its neighbours would include the Grove Theatre, the Cookies & Cream nightclub, The Gary Cooper pub and a Central Bedfordshire College base, The Store.