Introduction

In summer 2020, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, consulted the London Assembly, GLA staff and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) staff on plans for the GLA to leave the current City Hall building next year and move its headquarters to The Crystal building in the Royal Docks.

The lease for the current 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. This means the GLA will have a chance to consider leaving its current premises before the lease is renewed.

The move to The Crystal, a building owned by the GLA, would result in significant savings, enabling the GLA to safeguard frontline services for Londoners.

Like other local and regional authorities across the country, the GLA is facing financial challenges due to the loss of business rates and council tax income as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Therefore, it is even more important for us to prioritise our spending on crucial front-line services rather than internal running costs.

To enable the potential relocation, we are looking to submit a planning application to Newham Council to formally change the building use.

When The Crystal was built, the use of the building was limited by planning regulations to holding exhibitions and conferences. The current planning application would allow us to change the permitted use to accommodate regional government and civic functions.

Potential relocation of City Hall

Listening to the local community

Any move to The Crystal would be an important decision for not only all Londoners, but especially residents and businesses in the local area. Therefore, ahead of a formal decision, we would like to hear from local people to understand your views on the change of use.

The Mayor has yet to make a formal decision on whether to relocate City Hall to the Crystal Building. He is expected to announce his decision in the coming weeks.

The planning process would enable any potential move to take place before the end of 2021 – the date at which the ‘break clause’ for the lease at the current building expires.

The current City Hall building

The Greater London Authority (GLA)

The GLA is a strategic authority with a London-wide role to design a better future for the capital. Our work impacts many aspects of the day-to-day lives of all Londoners, these include transport, policing, education and housing.

The GLA is made up of seven ‘constituent bodies’, the Mayor, Assembly and the five functional bodies. The GLA’s five functional bodies are its principal delivery arms: The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), overseeing the work of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS); the London Fire Commissioner (LFC); Transport for London (TfL); the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC).

To learn more about what we do, please visit:

https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do

Why The Crystal?

The Crystal opened in 2012 and was commissioned by Siemens as an exemplar building of sustainable design. In 2016, the GLA took ownership of the building . The GLA’s Royal Docks team has since occupied The Crystal  alongside a number of other uses. However, the building has the potential to accommodate a use that is more suited to its flagship location and architectural style. These features make it highly suited to accommodate the GLA’s headquarters.

The GLA will make savings on both rental and operational costs if City Hall is to relocate to The Crystal.

The Crystal is  also considered an easily accessible location given the robust existing transport infrastructure at the Royal Docks as well as the forthcoming introduction of Crossrail to East London.

The Royal Docks are undergoing enormous change. The GLA and Newham Council are working together to create a new commercial district and visitor destination with thousands of new homes and jobs. We anticipate that accommodating City Hall in The Crystal will also support and further boost the regeneration of the Royal Docks.

The Crystal

What will the change of building use mean to Newham residents?

Public access

In addition to serving as a home to our staff and the London Assembly, City Hall also functions as a welcoming community facility to our neighbours and all Londoners. Each year, we host many cultural, educational, business and community events at our building, and our café is open to the public.

All these would form an integral part of The Crystal if the relocation goes ahead. The move would mean that local people would be able to enjoy the iconic building which was previously used only for private events.

As with the current City Hall building, a number of meeting rooms would be available to the public for hire when not being used by the GLA.

Public event at City Hall

Regeneration of the Royal Docks

The change of use of The Crystal would create significant spin off benefits including jobs in the local area and spending and investment for local businesses. The move would be an important step to help further accelerate the regeneration of the Royal Docks. Using the building for a prominent public body would not only attract visitors, but also further investment into the area.

As part of the Royal Docks Delivery Plan, the GLA is already contributing to a range of improvements to the local area, from which The Crystal would benefit. These include DLR capacity improvements, cycling improvement works and various improvements to the public realm across the Royal Docks.

When the GLA moved into its current location near Tower Bridge in 2002, it provided a major stimulus for the wider regeneration of the area. The Mayor hopes that any potential move would have a similar impact on regeneration in East London.

Will there be building works on site?

The Crystal is a highly sustainable and architecturally significant building. Should City Hall relocate, we will need to carry out some minor alterations to the building to meet the needs of our functions. For example, this will involve reconfiguring the internal space to create offices and meeting rooms and to accommodate the London Assembly’s chamber. Some small external alterations would also be made, including installing new signage and flags. However, these would not impact on the overall architectural quality of the building.

Upon completion of these alterations, The Crystal would provide a base for up to 500 staff. However, the number of staff in the building at any one time would be lower as a consequence of staff working patterns and the total amount of floorspace.

We will be sharing more details  on these design alterations as our plans are developed.

Our staff at the City Hall building

About the Royal Docks

The Royal Docks was once the largest enclosed docks in the world and a centre of global trade ­– today the area is being transformed into a world-class cultural, business and residential quarter.

The Royal Docks is one of the most significant regeneration projects in the UK. The Royal Docks’ Enterprise Zone (EZ), created to accelerate the regeneration of the area, has recently established an Economic Purpose for the Royal Docks, which sets the aspiration for the area to be a globally significant hub for enterprise and culture and a home for innovation.

The change of use of The Crystal would be a significant vote of confidence for this programme and its partners.

For more information on the Royal Docks, visit www.royaldocks.london.

The Royal Docks