Channel 4 reveals winning city for national HQ

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Leeds has been chosen as the new home for Channel 4, in a major boost to the city’s digital and media sector.

The announcement ends more than 18 months of active lobbying from UK cities after the broadcaster confirmed plans to move part of its operations out of London.

However despite the label of “national HQ”, the Leeds base will be smaller than Channel 4’s existing base at Horseferry Road, which will become known as its “London HQ”.

Around 300 of Channel 4’s 800 jobs will move out of London. The majority will come to Leeds while it is also establishing two new smaller creative hubs in Bristol and Glasgow.

Leeds’ bid for the main prize was chosen ahead of Birmingham and Greater Manchester, which were named on the final shortlist in July.

An original shortlist also had Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool in the running for the national headquarters and Belfast, Brighton, Newcastle-Gateshead, Nottingham, Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent being considered for a creative hub.

The Government had been considering options for Channel 4 since at least 2015 and it launched a review into the future of the broadcaster in late 2016, when privatisation and relocation were both considered.

At that stage relocation out of London was expected to mean the sale of its valuable site in London Victoria.

When the decision seemed to be in the hands of the Government, it was expected that Channel 4 would move to Birmingham. In February Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, was confident enough to publicly declare that his region would “get the nod for Channel 4” and a decision was expected imminently.

But weeks later, Channel 4 instead launched a formal bid process, which has ended today with the announcement of Leeds’ success.

In July, it was announced that Leeds had made it onto the narrowed-down shortlist to become the home of Channel 4’s national headquarters. At the same time, it was announced that Sheffield had been cut from the list of potential locations to host a creative hub.

Channel 4 said that its national headquarters would be placed somewhere with a working population of more than 200,000 people, have a high level of physical and digital connectivity, and a travel time to London that is below three hours.

It has also highlighted five key considerations – demography and diversity, availability of talent, local connectivity, travel links to London and its creative hubs, and the suitability of available office space – that the successful bidder had to perform strongly on.