The Crystal: Sadiq Khan’s plans to move City Hall to east London delayed

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The Crystal: Sadiq Khan’s plans to move City Hall to east London delayed
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Sadiq Khan’s trouble-hit plan to move City Hall to east London has been delayed, the mayor has finally admitted.

A statement released on Wednesday afternoon said the new home of the Greater London Authority would not hold its first meeting until late January, about three months later than hoped.

Mr Khan decided to abandon the 20-year-old Norman Foster-designed purpose-built City Hall, near Tower Bridge, and move to the Royal Docks in a bid to save cash.

But the £13.6 million move to a refurbished conference centre previously known as The Crystal has taken months longer than expected.

This was blamed on “global supply chain issues caused by the pandemic” and the discovery of long-term water damage to the building’s floor.

The Crystal (Google Maps)
The Crystal (Google Maps)

The GLA said on Wednesday that the new City Hall would not open to staff until the first week in January. The public will be admitted from January 17 and it will host its first meeting - Mayor’s Question Time - on January 20.

The original aim was for it to open in November. This subsequently slipped and a pre-Christmas opening was targeted.

Mr Khan said: “ City Hall’s move to The Crystal building will usher in a new era for the Greater London Authority and this flourishing part of East London.

“The move will save £61m over five years which will be used to help protect vital front-line services including in policing, the London Fire Brigade, and our transport network. It will also enable me to invest further in London’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”

Members of the London Assembly, who will be based alongside the mayor at The Crystal, visited last month and said it looked like a “building site”.

Moving to The Crystal, which is owned by the GLA, is meant to save £61 million over five years. But it is half the size of the purpose-built City Hall, so many GLA staff will have to continue working from home or from the London Fire Brigade headquarters in Union Street, Southwark.

The current City Hall will host its last meeting on December 2. Many staff and assembly members have already left, with Union Street being used as an interim base.

At the request of the assembly, the final Mayor’s Question Time of the year will be held at Union Street on December 16.

Mr Khan wants the new City Hall to symbolise the diversity of London, with gender neutral toilets and flagpoles promoting a range of communities.

Susan Hall, leader of the GLA Conservatives, said: "It comes as no surprise that the Mayor has pushed back City Hall’s moving date, leaving London’s government in limbo. The Crystal is ill-suited to be home to the Greater London Authority. Sadiq Khan’s plan to convert the building was inevitably going to be a long and expensive process.

"The moving costs have already rocketed by 70 per cent to £13.6 million. And the Mayor still hasn’t confirmed the final bill for the building works.

"The Crystal is quickly becoming a symbol of Sadiq Khan’s mayoralty: delayed, over budget and deeply uninspiring. But, we will not let his moving fiasco frustrate our efforts to hold the Mayor to account."

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