Channel 4 to Sheffield: No decision yet on move away from London as broadcaster outlines further plans

An artist's impression of the Channel 4 building in Sheaf Square outside Sheffield train station
An artist's impression of the Channel 4 building in Sheaf Square outside Sheffield train station
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Sheffield will have to wait until at least April to find out whether Channel 4 will be moving part of its operation to the city.

In a press conference today, broadcaster chief executive Alex Mahon outlined further plans for the operation which will see 'three new bureaux' - one of which will have a 'large presence'.

Ms Mahon also said 300 staff will move from London along with an increase its spend on productions in the nations and regions from 35 per cent to a voluntary 50 per cent.

The broadcaster will not sell its London headquarters but will establish a 'national headquarters' outside of the capital where 'creative decision makers who are spending money will be based'.

She said 'no decision' was due but a 'pitching process' would be underway in April.

Creative Sheffield, the council's economic development arm, is leading the bid and has previously revealed the move could be worth £1.4 billion to the city’s economy over the next 15 years and create thousands of jobs.

It has earmarked vacant land near the railway station in Sheaf Square as a potential site for offices, and the broadcaster is also being offered 80,000 sq ft of office space in the nearby Digital Campus on Sheaf Street.

Speaking today, Ms Mahon said "These three new creative hubs will be reducing our footprint in London and opening up the space we create in Horseferry Road to be used by indies and creative companies from the nations and regions so we can play a part in expanding their businesses."

She added: "I do believe it will help us speak to the rest of the UK, and will help the rest of the UK speak to us."

Ms Mahon said she was 'interested and excited' at the plans put forward by different towns and cities across the UK.

Sheffield is in the running along with Leeds, Manchester, York, and Birmingham and others. The West Midlands city is favourite to get the nod.

Sheffield Council said it welcomes today’s announcement from Channel 4 to expand their regional presence through three new hubs.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield City Council, said:

“To establish a new, world-leading centre for digital technology in Sheffield, with its proud reputation for innovation and forward-thinking, would be an excellent complement to any moves made by Channel 4.

“Sheffield is home to Doc/Fest, one of the world’s largest documentary film festivals. And the city’s enviable transport links and talent have already brought Boeing and McLaren Automotive here in recent months. Throw in the city’s two Universities with their journalism and media courses and you have a compelling case for Sheffield to be one of Channel 4s creative hubs.

“Sheffield’s personality has a natural fit with Channel 4’s. The city does things differently and is fiercely independent. The city is not afraid to challenge authority, stand up to the status quo and make trouble.”

Richard Caborn, Chair of Sheffield’s Channel 4 Bid said: “We want to take this opportunity to reiterate our offer to partner with Channel 4 to create a new National Screen Industries Institute for digital talent and technology.

“We are working with the public and private sector, converging the technologies of the creative industries with digital to establish a National Screen Institute in the city. Through this we can provide a platform to do something similar in the creative and digital industries to the work we have done with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.”