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Wates in line to build new Eastenders set

Exclusive: Wates is in line to scoop the £15m contract to build a replica of Albert Square for BBC favourite Eastenders, Construction News can reveal.

The contract would see Wates build the new permanent exact replica of Albert Square for the BBC at its Elstree studios in Hertfordshire.

Construction News understands Wates had made it through the first stage of the tender process, with the two-stage deal expected to be signed by October.

Bidding for the contract, which is understood to be worth around £15m, was launched back in September 2016 when the BBC originally said construction would start in June 2017.

The BBC said at the time that the existing set, which was built in 1984 using the traditional ”scenic build” method of applying a plaster brick covering to a plywood backing, had begun to decay.

As a result the BBC decided to rebuild the set with permanent materials to futureproof the programme.

The broadcaster said this would provide a more “authentic” east London feel, built with the high-quality materials required for high-definition broadcasting.

According to planning documents published in September 2016, the project will be delivered in two phases.

The first phase will see the demolition of existing buildings containing a gym, security lodge and part of its boiler house.

The second phase will see the construction of the Albert Square replica and set backdrops to mask existing buildings.

BBC first announced plans to build a new set at BBC’s Elstree Studios back in 2013. A report from the National Audit Office revealed last year that the completion date for the project had been pushed back until October 2020.

Construction News has contacted Wates for comment. A BBC spokeswoman declined to comment.

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