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Channel 4 to open national headquarters in Leeds

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Channel 4 has announced it will create a new ‘national headquarters' in Leeds – although an exact location has yet to be confirmed

The publicly owned, commercially-funded broadcaster picked Leeds over rival bids from Manchester and Birmingham, which had been considered favourite due to its proximity to London.

The move will see around 300 of Channel 4’s 800 staff relocated from the capital to Leeds as well as to two smaller creative hubs in Bristol and Glasgow which were also announced today. The first could be arriving in these new locations by the second half of next year.

The 35-year-old broadcaster has not said exactly where the Leeds base will be, with a spokesman for Leeds City Council suggesting it was still ‘very much TBC’. Locations for the new Bristol and Glasgow hubs have also yet to be decided.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: 'Further detailed work will now continue to identify locations and property within the national HQ and creative hub locations. It is envisaged that staff will begin to move to the new locations in H2 2019.'

The suggestion of a new home inside Leeds's historic Corn Exchange – hinted in an image tweeted by the Channel 4 press team – has already been ruled out due to the building being fully occupied by boutique shops.

Other potential sites for the complex include FCBS’s £350 million South Bank redevelopment and a location within Gensler’s masterplan for the land surrounding the city’s proposed HS2 terminus.

Architectural historian Otto Saumarez Smith and Chris Boyce of Assorted S+T* both suggested the disused Grade I-listed Temple Mills as a potential plot. Developer CEG purchased the 1836 ruin last year after earlier renovation plans fell through.

Guardian media editor Jim Waterson, meanwhile tweeted that an ‘off-the-peg’ solution might be sought because the move was planned to take place within a year. Such an approach could see Channel 4 take over existing or soon-to-complete commercial real estate within the West Yorkshire city.

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said: ‘Leeds put forward a compelling and ambitious strategy for how they could work alongside Channel 4 to further build the strong independent production sector in the city and develop new diverse talent from across the region.

‘Locating our national HQ in Leeds enables us to capitalise on a strong and fast-growing independent production sector in cities across the north of England – and also has the potential to unlock growth in the north-east and east of the country, an area without a major presence from other national broadcasters.’

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan said: ‘Leeds is a dynamic city and we are hugely excited that Channel 4 have chosen to base their headquarters with us.

‘Within our city and our region we are innovative, diverse and brimming with talent, and our ability to work together to provide great results has been proven once again with this excellent result.’

Graham Boyce, partner at ArkleBoyce Architects and co-chair of Leeds Society of Architects said it was ‘fantastic news for the city’.

The Leeds ‘national headquarters’ will operate in tandem with the broadcaster's existing 15,000m² Victoria base (pictured below) designed by Richard Rogers Partnership.

Commenting on the announcement, John McElgunn – partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners – confirmed the practice had played no role in the ‘relocation of Channel 4 from their London home’.

He said: ‘Having worked closely with this wonderful client to design their existing headquarters, on Horseferry Road, we would welcome the opportunity to work with them again on their new home in the vibrant city of Leeds.’ 

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