Mayor of London confirms relocation of City Hall to protect services
- Leaving current building and moving to Royal Docks will save £61m over five years - £6m more than originally forecasted
- The savings will help the Mayor protect front-line public services and invest in London’s economic recovery
- Moving to The Crystal, a building already owned by the GLA, will help support huge regeneration project in East London
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has confirmed today that the Greater London Authority (GLA) will leave its current City Hall home next year and move its headquarters to The Crystal building in the Royal Docks.
The move will save the GLA Group £61m over five years and £126m over ten years. The Mayor says the move is necessary because the Government is not adequately funding local and regional government in London, including the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the GLA Group facing a £500m financial black hole this year and next due to Covid-19, and tax income expected to be lower for several years to come, the savings will be used by the Mayor to protect front-line public services including the police, the London Fire Brigade, and key transport services and to invest in London’s economic recovery.
The Royal Docks is an amazing place, and we have the opportunity to turbo-charge the regeneration of the area, just as the opening of City Hall did for its surroundings
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan
The current City Hall at More London, near London Bridge, is a very expensive building. Next year, rent to private landlords Kuwaiti-owned St Martins is set to go up to £9.6m a year. The Mayor also has to pay an additional £3m a year in business rates and service and millions on utility bills, running costs and maintenance. The current lease allows for a 'break' in December 2021 – and the Mayor has to decide this year if he wishes to leave.
Even taking into account a counter-offer from the landlord that would reduce the cost of staying at City Hall, the financial case for moving to The Crystal – a building that is already owned by the GLA - is impossible to ignore.
After allowing for the costs of the move and works at The Crystal, including new security measures, the relocation will save £61m over five years - £6m more than initially forecasted when the Mayor announced the proposals in June. The Crystal is owned by the GLA, so the savings will continue thereafter, with the long-term certainty that comes from owning your own home.
Overall, the GLA Group faces a budget shortfall of up to £493 million over the next two years due to an unprecedented loss, because of Covid-19, of business rates and council tax income, with losses expected to continue in future years.
The Mayor believes that the move to The Crystal will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Royal Docks which is set to lead to 25,000 new homes and the creation of 60,000 new jobs within the next 20 years, supported by the arrival of the Elizabeth line.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My first priority will always be to protect funding for front-line services for Londoners.
“Given our huge budget shortfall, and without the support we should be getting from the Government, I simply cannot justify remaining at our current expensive office when I could be investing that money into public transport, the Met Police and the London Fire Brigade.
“The alternative to considering this move would be to cut the front-line services Londoners rely on. We all need to pull together to help London through this pandemic, and this is one direct change I can make to help protect Londoners from the damaging effects of the Government’s mishandling of this pandemic.
“I know that City Hall is a landmark building for many – but as Mayor I will always focus my severely limited budget resources on front-line public services and supporting Londoners and our recovery from this pandemic, rather than on high City Hall building costs.
“The Royal Docks is an amazing place, and we have the opportunity to turbo-charge the regeneration of the area, just as the opening of City Hall did for its surroundings.”
The Mayor will be based at The Crystal, which will be renamed as City Hall. The proposal includes the option for Assembly Members to remain located in central London, but even if this is taken up, the business of the Assembly will be conducted at The Crystal.
A number of teams will also be anchored at The Crystal while the GLA will also occupy a second floor at the London Fire Brigade’s HQ at Union Street in Southwark.
As part of the relocation, GLA staff will be able to work from home regularly, building on the success of home working during the pandemic.
The Mayor has submitted a ‘change of use’ planning application to Newham Council to seek approval for the necessary modifications needed at The Crystal, including the creation of a new Chamber. The application is expected to be considered in December.
Bek Seeley, Managing Director of Development for Lendlease in Europe, said: “This is an excellent move. As one of the most exciting regeneration projects in Europe, the Royal Docks is undergoing huge change and unlocking thousands of new homes and jobs for London, which we are delighted to be a part of as we bring forward a major redevelopment of Silvertown Quays. The arrival of the Mayor of London, the London Assembly and the Greater London Authority will provide a huge boost to the area and further strengthen the transformation that is already underway”.
Jeremy Rees, Chief Executive Officer for ExCeL London, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority are moving to the Royal Docks. I am in no doubt that the move will provide a further springboard for the area’s regeneration and strengthen the Royal Docks’ reputation as a global hub, which attracts thousands of visitors and businesses each year”.
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