Revealed: Sadiq Khan's £10million plan to move City Hall to East End

Revealed: Sadiq Khan’s plan to spend £10million moving City Hall to the East End as residents slam move as ‘like selling a Rolls Royce to buy a Mercedes and then claiming to be frugal’

  • City Hall will move from current home to The Crystal building in the Royal Docks
  • Documents submitted to Newham council show how building will be altered
  • Refit will cost £6million; security upgrades £3.6million and £1.5million for IT

Full details of Sadiq Khan’s £10million plan to move City Hall to the East End of London have been revealed for the first time. 

The mayor confirmed earlier this month that the Greater London Authority would be relocated from its current £43million home near Tower Bridge to The Crystal building in the Royal Docks.     

The decision was first suggested in June as part of efforts to fill a black hole of almost £500 million in the capital’s budget following the coronavirus pandemic. 

Documents submitted to Newham council show how The Crystal – which is currently a conference and exhibition centre – will be altered to accommodate the Mayor and hundreds of City Hall staff. 

Full details of Sadiq Khan ‘s £10million plan to move City Hall to The Crystal building (pictured) in the East End of London have been revealed for the first time 

According to London Assembly analysis reported by the Evening Standard, it would cost £6million to refit the building internally, £3.6million to upgrade its security and £1.5million to install necessary IT systems.   

However, some residents are fiercely opposed to the move, with one saying it was ‘like selling a Rolls Royce to buy a Mercedes and then claiming to be frugal’.

The eye-catching current home of the GLA was designed by Norman Foster and only opened in 2002.

Its unusual shape and construction led to it being dubbed the ‘glass testicle’ by former mayor Ken Livingstone and the ‘glass gonad’ by Boris Johnson. 

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

The mayor believes the current rent is above market value and set to rise to £12.6 million after December 2021.

City Hall (pictured front left) is between the Shard and Tower Bridge and opened in 2002. But Mr Khan said it costs £11million per year to run

The GLA already owns The Crystal, which has an ‘outstanding’ rating for environmental sustainability, meaning lower running costs.

It was opened in 2012 and cost £30million to build. 

The planning documents on Newham council’s website also reveal that City Hall’s function room, known as London’s Living Room, will be recreated at The Crystal.

Instead of having car parking spaces, there will be a secure bike hangar with 117 spaces.

The toilets will be flushed using rainwater collected on the building’s roof. 

Three flagpoles outside will allow pro-Remain Mr Khan to continue flying the EU flag, as he currently does at the Existing City Hall.

There will only be space for 226 of the existing 500 GLA staff. Others will be based at the London Fire Brigade’s headquarters in Southwark.

A new debating chamber will accommodate around 170 people.  

However, there were conflicting opinions among residents about the plans.

One wrote: ‘Moving from City Hall to The Crystal to save money is like selling a Rolls Royce to buy a Mercedes and then claiming to be frugal. 

‘Government should not be spending tax payer money on expensive premises.

The London mayor launched a consultation on moving out of the building on the South Bank near Tower Bridge to the Crystal by the end of 2021 to save £55million over five years

‘Claiming that Government must occupy buildings that have “status” is bizarre. 

‘The more power and status Governments have, the more incentive there is for private corporations to lobby them.

‘The proposal claims it will save money. Compared to what?

‘The proposal claims the building is a good option. At what cost?

‘The proposal claims the move will boost the local economy. What hard evidence do they have?’

They added: ‘Left unchecked, Government has a tendency to expand indefinitely, all the while claiming to be frugal – this is a prime example.’

Another critical resident said they objected in the ‘strongest possible terms’ to the move and highlighted six reasons why they were opposed.

The move will see the GLA headquarters move around 5.5 miles east

They included that the change of use would ‘spoil the tranquility’ of the area; that already bad traffic would be made worse and that stretched public transport would be put under further pressure. 

Other residents were delighted by the plans. 

One wrote: ‘We fully support this prestigious application that would greatly improve the profile of Newham and in particular the Royal Docks.

‘The building is not in use and those that object should consider what the alternatives could be.

‘If it is going to save money that would be an added bonus.’

Another added: ‘What a brilliant proposal for a building that has largely stood unused.

‘With GLA professionals working in the docks there will be more spent in local businesses – maybe some of them will even use that silly the cable car too!’

Mr Khan said when the plans were confirmed at the beginning of the month: ‘My first priority will always be to protect funding for frontline 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 frontline services Londoners rely on.’

The former MP said the shift eastwards would provide an ‘opportunity to turbo-charge the regeneration’ of the Docklands ‘just as the opening of City Hall did for its surroundings’.

The Crystal will be renamed City Hall as part of the shake-up, with staff to be given the opportunity to work from home ‘regularly’ following the success of home working during the pandemic, according to a spokesman. 

A spokesperson for the Mayor added on Tuesday: ‘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 move will save £61m over five years and is necessary because the Government is not adequately funding local and regional government in London, including the costs of Covid-19.’        

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