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Circular Firing Squad: How The Channel 4 Relocation Was Fumbled

Channel 4's HQ at 124 Horseferry Road, Westminster

Finally we are beginning to learn how Channel 4 came to choose Leeds — and reject Manchester, Salford, Birmingham and Coventry — as the location for its 30K SF new national HQ.

It looks like Leeds was the only one left standing after infighting between the other contenders.

New disclosures on the bid process in Greater Manchester show behind-the-scenes tensions helped hobble the chances of a Greater Manchester relocation, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Salford Council originally believed its MediaCity site would be the Greater Manchester candidate, but Manchester City Council also offered other locations, and toward the end of the bid process Manchester City Council is said to have taken control.

Channel 4 bosses were taken to a Northern Quarter restaurant apparently packed with diners. But the diners turned out to be performers who then launched into an hour-long show for Channel 4 executives, the Manchester Evening News reports.

There was bad blood already. The dispute between Manchester and Salford over Channel 4 came a decade after the BBC controversially relocated from Manchester's Oxford Road to Salford's MediaCity.

The dispute in the North West came as Birmingham's bid also hit choppy water, with Channel 4 executives resisting political pressure to support Conservative West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street.

In the end, property cost was also an issue. As a Lambert Smith Hampton analysis published long before the decision showed, Leeds property is a lot cheaper than either Birmingham or Manchester.

"For a new-build office totalling 30K SF with 300 staff, the above equates to an annual cost of £11.66M in Manchester/Salford, £10.96M in Birmingham and £9.35M in Leeds. Over a period of five years, the effective ‘saving’ from being located in one of the shortlisted cities as opposed to London’s Westminster amounts to £35.8M in Manchester/Salford, £39.3M in Birmingham and £48M in Leeds," the report said.