BBC Club applies for 24-hour alcohol licence in 'error' as employee club awaits decision

General view of Broadcasting House, the BBC headquarters in Central London with people walking in and out of the building
-Credit: (Image: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The BBC has applied for a new alcohol licence to run a club for employees in New Broadcasting House, documents show. BBC Club Sports and Leisure Ltd – one of two BBC divisions operating at the Portland Place site – said the new premises licence would give local authorities “clarity” over who would be managing the employee-dedicated social club.

BBC Club was founded in 1924 as a private members club but is now an employee membership club consisting of an event space, a gym, food and drink services which is open to employees and their partners, according to its website. Documents from Westminster City Council, which is responsible for issuing the licence, shows BBC Club Sports and Leisure applied for the new licence after locating to New Broadcasting House from nearby Wogan House.

If approved, drinks will be sold on and off the premises to employees and guests until 11.30 most nights. The venue will not be open to the public.

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Blurred defocused side view of barman preparing drink to guest at speakeasy cocktail bar
Drinks could be served until 11.30pm most night -Credit:Getty Images

The BBC division had initially applied for a 24-hour liquor licence but withdrew the request after realising it was an error. Lawyers were also forced to apologise for an “administrative error” which saw the BBC submit the wrong type of licensing request.

A letter to Westminster City read: “First my client would like to sincerely apologise to the Licensing sub-committee, the responsible authorities and the residents for the confusion caused in the submission of the application, particularly having applied originally for hours which were never intended to be used. Our client accepts that if they had approached the matter differently it is highly likely that a hearing would not have been necessary.”

The same letter states BBC Club Sports and Leisure Limited operates under different management to the BBC and applied for a new licence to “ensure there was clarity of responsibility for the Responsible Authorities”. The BBC has had a licence in place for New Broadcasting House since 2005.

The Club will be located on the ground floor of New Broadcasting House to the left of the main entrance. It will occupy a space that had already been used as a café for staff and waiting area for audience members of BBC shows. Westminster City councillors will review the application on Wednesday, June 5.

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