Channel 1 Los Angeles
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 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.