Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a consultation on plans for the Greater London Authority to leave City Hall at More London next year and move to The Crystal building in the Royal Docks.
The Mayor claims that the move would save the GLA Group £55 million over five years.
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 – the first and only chance the GLA has to consider leaving.
Notice has to be given this year and a decision is needed by September so there is time to plan and carry out the move.
The Mayor believes this is above the market rent (even before the impact of COVID-19) and the contract in place means that this figure is due to rise even further – to £12.6 million per year beyond Christmas 2021.
By contrast, The Crystal is already owned by the GLA and its "outstanding" rating for environmental sustainability means its running costs will be lower than the current City Hall.
The Mayor will now begin a formal consultation on this proposal with the London Assembly, UNISON, PCS, the Chairs of GLA and Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) staff networks, and all GLA and MOPAC staff. These consultations will last for six weeks.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "My first priority will always be to protect funding for front-line services, including public transport, the Met Police and the London Fire Brigade.
"That's why I'm consulting on plans for the GLA to leave the current City Hall building next year and relocate to The Crystal at the Royal Docks in Newham.
"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.
"Leaving our current home would save £55 million over five years, which would help us to protect and invest in the things that matter most to Londoners, as well as supporting the regeneration of the Royal Docks.
"The Crystal is a highly sustainable building on the site of London's most ambitious regeneration project, where the GLA and Newham Council are working together to create a new commercial district and visitor destination with thousands of new homes and jobs."
The proposal is for the Mayor and the London Assembly to be based at The Crystal, which would be renamed as City Hall.
The GLA would also lease one floor of Transport for London's (TfL) Palestra building in Southwark for other staff.
Siobhan Benita, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London, said: "Moving City Hall to The Crystal seems a sensible move on paper and we look forward to scrutinising the details of this proposal. However, the projected money saved on this move is insignificant in comparison to the £1 billion earmarked for the neighbouring Silvertown Tunnel project.
"It is a great irony that he can trumpet the money-saving and green benefits of a move to The Crystal, while proposing to build an expensive and polluting road that leads right to it. If Sadiq Khan is serious about saving Londoners money and looking after the environment, there is more radical action he could take. All spending commitments must be reviewed."
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