READER'S VERDICT: Majority in support of bid to bring Channel 4 headquarters to Sheffield

Members of the public have delivered their verdict on plans to bring the Channel 4 headquarters to Sheffield - with most backing the bid.

Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 1:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th June 2017, 2:40 pm
Edward Highfield.

The current government has said it will move the publicly-owned corporation out of its London headquarters to another base elsewhere in the UK to help drive creative jobs throughout the regions.

Sheffield has thrown its hat into the ring and will prepare a formal bid to try and land the broadcaster.

Sheaf Square.

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It is being spearheaded by Creative Sheffield, the council's economic development function, and project leaders said they will highlight the city's central location, major transport links and reputation as a place with a wealth of creative talent as major selling points.

Edward Highfield, director of Creative Sheffield, said: "We want to say 'Sheffield is a hugely creative place, full of inspiring people and projects. Coupled with our central location and transport links, we believe this is the place to be."

But the Steel City faces stiff competition as other major cities including Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham and Cardiff are also believed to be preparing bids.

Readers have been commenting on the story on our website and the article has has been shared more than 160 times in Facebook, with the majority giving it the thumbs up.

A scene from This Is England.

Deirdre McManus said: "That would be good, even more investment in Sheffield."

An anonymous contributor added that it "would be great" and "hopefully they will include what makes Sheffield attractive to people who work in the creative industries i.e. Kelham Island, Peddler Market, Tramlines, Doc/Fest, Outlines, Cultural Industries Quarter, DIvision Street."

Another posted: "Interesting. If it happens it could have the same effect as the BBC moving to Salford. Channel 4 is left of centre and there's obviously a connection there with our city."

A Darnall resident posted: "Good luck with the bidding, the city needs more of this type of investment."

Prof Vanessa Toulmin.

However others highlighted that Sheffield faces stiff competition to land the deal.

Chris Allen said he could see the bid being won another city like "Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle or Birmingham."

Project leaders have earmarked vacant land in Sheaf Square close to the railway station as a potential base for the new headquarters. Mr Highfield said initial talks with site owners, the Homes and Communities Agency, have been "positive."

He added: "With HS2 planned for the city in future years and Sheffield's central location, we think our connectivity will be a big selling point."

Sheaf Square.

The bid will also be shaped around Sheffield's creative heritage and draw attention to programmes such as This Is England - a show filmed in the city by Sheffield-based production company Warp Films for Channel 4.

A report to showcase the city's growing creative digital sector will also be included.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, director of city and cultural engagement at the University of Sheffield, is backing the bid and said: "If Sheffield could be a TV channel it would be Channel 4.

"It is a unique and creative place which often does something interesting and out of the ordinary, much like Channel 4 does."

Project leaders will detail the bid in a four-page prospectus that will be given out at the upcoming Channel 4-supported Sheffield Doc/Fest between June 9 and 14.

Biids have to be submitted to the Government by July 5 and project leaders will be pulling together the "finer details" such as potential economic impact and estimated project costs over the next month.

A scene from This Is England.

The channel is a public corporation of the department for culture, media and sport and culture secretary Karen Bradley said in March that a consultation would be launched asking whether the broadcaster should relocate some or all of its 800 staff from its £100 million London base to another part of the country.

The Conservative Party has now included the proposal in its manifesto and pledged that the channel will be "relocated out of London" if the party wins the general election.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “We welcome the Conservatives’ manifesto commitment that Channel 4 will remain publicly owned.

"Channel 4 already delivers a significant impact in the UK’s nations and regions and we want to continue to work with Government as part of its consultation to explore meaningful ways to grow this further and support jobs, investment and growth in the creative economy across the whole of the UK."

Prof Vanessa Toulmin.