James Hall
James Hall, partner of Barton Willmore.
Rebecca Wayman

Could Newcastle and Gateshead win the 'crucial' spot for Channel 4's big move?

Planning firm, Barton Willmore has suggested that Newcastle and Gateshead could be on to a winner to host Channel 4’s new regional HQ.

The broadcaster has pledged to move around 300 staff to a new regional hub outside of London.

Barton Willmore’s research department has assessed the 12 cities pitching to become Channel 4’s new home. The firm has looked at criteria such as workforce suitability, housing affordability, creative industry provision and university links.

The team also analysed the suitability of Newcastle and Gateshead, finding them to be ‘viable contenders’ based on consistently high scoring across those criteria.

James Hall, partner at Barton Willmore, said: “This is a significant opportunity for the North East to benefit from this broadcasting giant.

“The North East LEP area already employs an estimated 58,000 people in creative jobs and with some of the most affordable housing in the country, and universities specialising in communication and media, the region could be one of the frontrunners to attract Channel 4.

“If Channel 4 were to be based in the region it would provide yet another reason for the North East to retain more of its graduates.”

As it stands, the other cities contending the move include Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Liverpool, Norwich, Salford, Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent.

Barton Willmore’s research points to Glasgow, Cardiff and Leeds as posing the biggest challenge to Newcastle and Gateshead.

Morgan Reece, research associate with Barton Willmore, added: “This is a huge opportunity for a city to benefit from one of the biggest names in UK broadcasting.

“The new regional hub is set to spawn a thriving media ecosystem, with Channel 4 already committing to spending half of its total £700m annual programme budget with TV companies outside of London by 2023.

“Channel 4’s selection criteria will very much be based on each city’s individual merit - and the four categories we selected will undoubtedly be critical in any future decision making.”

Barton Willmore’s research was welcomed by Invest Newcastle and Northern Film and Media.

Catherine Walker, director of inward investment at Invest Newcastle, said: “Newcastle and Gateshead are involved in an ongoing bidding process to bring a part of Channel 4’s operation to the region based on our strengths in the creative and digital sectors.”

Data from the ONS shows the North East’s film and TV industries generated an estimated gross value added of more than £345m between 2010 to 2015.

Channel 4’s intended move is the result of a 2017 Conservative Party manifesto pledge to move Channel 4 out of London. The broadcaster is to retain a London base.

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