Government ready to scrutinise Sheffield's Channel 4 bid

How a Channel 4 HQ in Sheaf Square could look
How a Channel 4 HQ in Sheaf Square could look
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Government officials are about to begin examining Sheffield's bid to bring Channel 4's headquarters to the city.

The submission, led by the council's economic development arm Creative Sheffield, envisages a new base for the broadcaster at a site next to the railway station, and also holds out the offer of 80,000 sq ft of office space in the nearby Digital Campus on Sheaf Street.

The creation of a 'digital talent and technology centre' is a major goal of the bid, which says Channel 4 would be worth £1.4 billion to the local economy, generating 4,050 jobs.

Sheffield's response to a consultation on boosting the organisation's impact outside London was one of the most detailed regional plans, and featured an artist's impression demonstrating what the television group's headquarters could look like here.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is carrying out the review, said: "We will now be reviewing representations made as part of the consultation and the Government will provide a response in due course."

Rivals including Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff have lodged proposals, with Leeds, York and Hull posing competition from within Yorkshire.

Screen Yorkshire, which invests in film, television and digital content, is officially backing Leeds, but its chief executive Sally Joynson has said that a move to anywhere this side of the Pennines would help to shift the focus from the western side of the UK, which has already benefited from the likes of MediaCityUK in Salford, where the BBC is based.

“Everyone knows this is a very controversial proposal, there is no one in Yorkshire who underestimates the challenges for Channel 4 and the sector if the move is pushed through," said Ms Joynson.

"But we genuinely believe that the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term pain. I’m very confident the whole of Yorkshire would unite to make sure it works. You have to be in it to win it.”

Channel 4 claims that, while there would be advantages to relocating from the capital, it could face difficulties attracting the right staff and selling advertising.

Its outgoing chief executive David Abraham has already urged caution about the use of financial sweeteners by bidders.

“I think it is important that the commercial and editorial independence of Channel 4 is maintained,” said Mr Abraham earlier this month.

“Some of the solutions that have been tabled are effectively public money being used as an inducement to get us to move.”