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Meridian names the day for moving out
Meridian TV will be in a position to quit its landmark Southampton base by the end of August, Business South can today reveal.
Staff at the riverside studios, which were built in 1958, are to move into state-of-the-art offices at Solent Business Park at Whiteley, near Fareham.
As previously reported, 175 Meridian employees, out of a local workforce of 300-plus, lost their jobs as part of a £4 billion merger between Meridian owner Granada and rival Carlton, to form ITV plc.
Up to £6m is being spent by Meridian on a television centre at Forum One, an eye-catching glass-and-steel office.
According to Meridian, the top floor centre, which is currently being fitted out, will include three new studios, three galleries, edit suites, dressing rooms and specific technical areas.
Its flagship news programme, Meridian Tonight, fronted by Fred Dinenage and Debbie Thrower, is watched by more than 500,000 viewers every evening.
Journalists and producers will operate digital desktop editing provided by broadcast supplier Avid, which uses server-based technology.
It is understood that work to transform the office space will take up to three months.
Meridian managing director Lindsay Charlton said: "This move represents a £6m reinvestment in our local programming.
"We will be designing a new working culture at Forum One which we hope will be a template for other regional licences within the newly merged ITV.
"The technology and methods of television production have been revolutionised by digital systems and Meridian will be taking this opportunity to benefit from these changes."
Meridian is renting more than 18,000 sq ft of office space and 92 car spaces at Forum One, at an estimated annual cost of £349,000.
Southampton-based Neilson Holt and Fareham-based Hughes Ellard represented landlord Amey plc in the Meridian deal.
Meridian was represented by London agent Leaver Charles Granger.
Roger Holt, of joint letting agents Neilson Holt, said: "This high-profile letting helps to further establish Solent Business Park as one of the most desirable office locations in the M27 corridor."
An estimated 4,000 people currently work at the sought-after park, where an acre of land has a price tag of nearly £500,000.
When Meridian vacates its studios at Northam, the land - worth millions of pounds on the open market - will be earmarked for employment-led mixed use, including homes.
However, any planning application is bound to be complex because of sensitive issues over nature conservation, flood defences, access and home zoning.
Meanwhile, financial services firm TML Financial Solutions is gearing up to be Meridian's new neighbour at Whiteley.
It is moving the 260 staff from its base at Eastleigh this summer to new headquarters at Forum Three, which is next door to Forum One.