London’s iconic City Hall is set to close in a shock plan to save £11m a year.
Mayor Sadiq Khan has unveiled plans to move the Greater London Authority from its current home next to Tower Bridge.
Mr Khan plans to take advantage of a 20-year break clause allowing the GLA to exit its lease in December 2021.
Politicians and staff would move to The Crystal, a three-storey glass building in Docklands already owned by the authority.
The new hq would include a ‘chamber’ for political meetings and offices for the mayor, London Assembly members and their staff.
The angular glass building is much smaller than City Hall so additional office space for workers would be needed at Transport for London’s Southwark hq, Palestra.
The Crystal was bought for £29m in 2016 and currently houses a 30-strong planning team.
Mr Khan last week warned the GLA was facing a £0.5bn black hole in its finances because of lost income from business rates and council tax.
City Hall, designed by renowned architect Lord Foster and opened by the Queen, was purpose built after Tony Blair’s Labour government created the post of Mayor of London.
It’s distinctive appearance earned it a number of nicknames including the ‘headlamp’ and the ‘glass testicle’.
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.
We will be looking at the full details of what the Mayor proposes, and it is of course important that views from staff and Assembly Members are taken on board.
Moving City Hall to The Crystal seems a sensible move on paper and we look forward to scrutinizing the details of this proposal. However, the projected money saved on this move is insignificant in comparison to the £1billion earmarked for the neighbouring Silvertown Tunnel project.