Sadiq Khan is consulting on plan to move City Hall to Royal Docks in bid to save £55m

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 June 2020

Mayor Sadiq Khan is consulting on plans to move City Hall to Newham. Pictures: Mike Brooke (inset) and Tom Simpson

Mayor Sadiq Khan is consulting on plans to move City Hall to Newham. Pictures: Mike Brooke (inset) and Tom Simpson

© Greater London Authority

The Mayor of London is consulting on plans for the Greater London Authority to leave its City Hall base and move to Newham.

Land in the Royal Docks on which the Siemens Crystal was built was passed to the GLA. Picture: ArchantLand in the Royal Docks on which the Siemens Crystal was built was passed to the GLA. Picture: Archant

The possible move to The Crystal in the Royal Docks could save the authority £55million over five years, according to the mayor’s office.

Sadiq Khan explained the move comes as part of a cost-saving bid to protect services from cuts and invest in jobs, skills and other initiatives to aid the economic recovery from Covid-19.

Mr Khan said: “My first priority will always be to protect funding for front-line services. That’s why I’m consulting on plans for the GLA to leave the current City Hall building next year.”

The announcement follows Mr Khan revealing last week that the GLA will suffer an “unprecedented financial emergency” as a result of the crisis. He also declared that he would be taking a 10 per cent pay cut.

Newham Mayor Rohksana Fiaz welcomed the possible move. Picture: Ken MearsNewham Mayor Rohksana Fiaz welcomed the possible move. Picture: Ken Mears

The GLA faces a budget shortfall of up to £493m over the next two years.

Mr Khan warned this will mean cuts across the GLA - including to public transport, the Metropolitan Police Service and London Fire Brigade.

The lease for the City Hall building was granted in 2001 for 25 years, but it allows for a break in the contract after 20 years, in December 2021.

Notice has to be given this year and a decision is needed by September to allow time to plan and carry out the move.

Mr Khan said: “In normal times, it would be standard practice for any mayor to consider utilising the lease break clause on the City Hall building that becomes possible this year, and to view it as an opportunity to ensure Londoners were getting the best value for money.

“In the current financial context, and with the looming black hole in London’s public finances, it would be negligent not to do so.”

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The City Hall building currently costs the GLA £11.1m a year in rent to private landlords Kuwaiti-owned St Martin’s, in service charges and rates.

The mayor believes the contract in place means that figure is due to rise even further - to £12.6m per year beyond Christmas 2021.

The Crystal is already owned by the GLA and its “outstanding” rating for environmental sustainability means its running costs are expected to be lower than the current City Hall.

The mayor hopes that moving the seat of London’s government to the Royal Docks could also boost the area’s regeneration, leading to 25,000 homes and the creation of 60,000 jobs over the next 20 years, supported by the arrival of the Elizabeth line.

A formal consultation on the proposal to last six weeks is due to begin.

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: “I’m delighted that City Hall could be relocating to the iconic Crystal Building.

“The stunning Royal Docks, with a water area of nearly 250 acres, is at the heart of one of the most exciting renovation developments in the capital, bringing more jobs, housing and a thriving new business district to east London.

“It’s a great opportunity to have London government in our borough and I’m looking forward to welcoming the mayor, Assembly Members and the City Hall team to this magnificent location which is a neighbourhood, rich in history, thriving with ambition; and with a long-standing diverse community who will welcome them warmly.”

The proposal is for the Mayor and the London Assembly to be based at The Crystal, which will be renamed as City Hall.

The GLA will also lease one floor of Transport for London’s (TfL) Palestra building in Southwark for other staff.

This will allow for improved collaborative working between the GLA and TfL.

As part of the plan, the GLA will also enable staff to work from home more regularly to make the best use of the new office space that would be available.

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