Dr Who building in Ealing set to become student digs
An empty office block above Ealing Broadway tube station and once used as a film location for BBC TV’s Dr Who could be converted into student flats because of a lack of interest from commercial bidders.
Villiers House has been earmarked by Imperial College and the Royal College of Music as a suitable venue for a new hall of residence.
The landmark building has been placed under offer with the academic institutions willing to take on the remaining 55-year lease, currently held by the BBC, according to reports in the latest edition of Property Week.
“The office market isn’t that buoyant in the area and there is a lot of product along the Uxbridge Road,” Tony Fisher, head of office agency at Lambert Smith Hampton, which is acting for the BBC, told the magazine.
“There are lots of educational bodies that have looked and it seems an obvious move.”
The 9-storey building has been on the market since the collapse into administration of Glenkerrin, the Irish property development company which in 2009 tried and failed to push through a controversial redevelopment of central Ealing. The initial plans had proposed the erection of a 40-story Dubai-style tower block designed by Sir Norman Foster.
Some local residents fear that a change of use to student digs could freeze any significant redevelopment of the station which is widely regarded as being long overdue for having its poor access problems dealt with.
Villiers House was once home to the BBC’s finance and accounting services and in November 1967 the building’s fire escape was used to film a scene from Dr Who’s The Enemy of the World, starring Patrick Troughton as the doctor.
Ealing locations were often used for Dr Who stories during the period that the BBC owned Ealing Film Studios. One of the most famous sites, close to Ealing Broadway was the department store shop window from which animated shop dummies, the Autons, broke out for an alien rampage in the 1970 series Spearhead from Space.