London’s mayoralty and devolved assembly are to move from their current base near Tower Bridge to a cheaper site in the east of the city as part of a cost-cutting exercise, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.
The London mayor said the move to the Crystal building, in the Royal Docks area near London City airport, about four miles further east, would save £126m over 10 years, and help make up a shortfall in funding due to Covid.
Khan first raised in June the idea of a shift to the Crystal building, which is used as an exhibition space and is owned by the Greater London authority, which comprises the mayoralty and the London assembly.
In contrast, the bowl-shaped, glass-covered City Hall building, designed by Norman Foster and opened in 2002, is rented from the Kuwaiti-owned St Martins group, with the annual rent about to rise to £9.6m a year.
The lease has a break clause in December 2021, with formal notice needed to be given this year.
The GLA says it faces “a £500m financial black hole this year and next due” due to lower revenues because of Covid, with the shortfall not being made up by central government. The savings from the move will go to public services.
In a statement, Khan said: “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. 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 frontline public services and supporting Londoners and our recovery from this pandemic, rather than on high City Hall building costs.”
Khan said the move would also help boost regeneration of the Royal Docks area, with the Crystal building to be renamed City Hall. While assembly members will have the choice of staying based in central London, the business of the assembly will be moved.
The switch will also result in more GLA staff being able to work from home regularly.
Ahead of the move, the mayoralty formally consulted groups including the assembly and unions representing staff.