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UTV ponders move from Havelock House in Belfast

By John Mulgrew

Published 24/05/2016

UTV’s premises at Havelock House
UTV’s premises at Havelock House

Broadcaster UTV could be moving out of its Havelock House headquarters in Belfast after almost 60 years.

It looks like the end of an era for the broadcaster, as it's understood new owners ITV have now appointed a commercial property firm to look for new premises in Belfast.

It follows the £100m sale of Ulster Television and UTV Ireland from UTV Media plc last year.

UTV has been at the late Victorian Ormeau Road building since 1959.

And in six decades it's played host to some of Northern Ireland's most memorable television moments and has been home to many broadcasting legends.

In 1999, Gerry Kelly interviewed nine-year-old Rory McIlroy after he had won the world under-10s championship.

And in 2010, the Queen paid a visit during Frank Mitchell's live weather forecast.

It's understood Havelock House would have to undergo a major facelift in order to modernise it. As a result, it's looking for a new headquarters as one alternative. It's understood Lambert Smith Hampton has been appointed to find the new base.

Don Anderson, author of 50 Years of UTV, said there will undoubtedly be huge amounts of nostalgia over the building but that he's "not surprised" the company is looking for a new headquarters.

"The buildings that were required for the first generation of television are over-engineered, and are too spacious," he said.

A spokesman for ITV said: "We are carrying out a property review to look into a range of options for our Belfast base, including the renovation and refurbishment of UTV's existing offices at Havelock House."

UTV and UTV Ireland's 250 staff are now part of ITV's global television business.

When Havelock House was bought by UTV in 1959, the BBC owned the only television studio in Belfast.

It was one of 57 buildings considered by the company, and was bought for £17,000.

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