The Mayor last month proposed abandoning the Greater London Authority’s current home on the South Bank of the Thames, between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, to save £55m over five years.
He suggested converting The Crystal, a small conference centre in the Royal Docks beside the Emirates cable car, and renaming it City Hall.
Today, under questioning from the London Assembly, Mr Khan’s most senior aide admitted the Mayor would also have an office at the Palestra skyscraper building in Southwark that is currently home to Transport for London.
David Bellamy, the Mayor’s chief of staff, said this would make it easier for the Mayor to attend regular meetings in central London, such as at Scotland Yard.
“The Mayor has meetings all round the place,” Mr Bellamy said. “It’s a matter for whoever is elected in the elections next year about how they balance the time across the GLA group.
“Absolutely the Mayor’s main office is going to be at The Crystal in this proposal.”
Susan Hall, leader of the GLA Conservatives, said she had heard from two sources that there would only be space for 150 of the GLA’s 1,190 staff at The Crystal.
Mr Bellamy said this was “an underestimate” and depended on how the conference centre were reconfigured, but admitted GLA employees would be expected to work from home “two or three days a week”.
At present, the Mayor’s office is on the eighth floor of the “glass testicle” City Hall building designed by Norman Foster at a cost of £43m. It was opened by the Queen in 2002.
City Hall would not be moved to The Crystal until December 2021, the assembly’s budget committee was told today. This means that Mr Khan will have to be re-elected next May if he wants to be the first mayor in the new home of the GLA.
The Crystal has been proposed as it is currently owned by the GLA, meaning it would enable major savings in rent.
However only a “limited” amount of money would be saved over the current and next financial years. Mr Khan is trying to save £493m due to an expected drop in business rates and council tax due to the impact of coronavirus.
The £55m in savings that would result from moving to The Crystal would take until December 2026 to realise, the GLA’s executive director of resources, David Gallie, said.
The GLA currently pays £11.1 million a year in rent and rates for City Hall and this is due to increase to £12.6 million by the end of next year. It has until September to decide whether to use a “break clause” to get out of the deal with City Hall's private landlords.
Work is underway to establish how to redesign The Crystal to accommodate a chamber and committee rooms for meetings of the London Assembly, which scrutinises the Mayor, and provide desk space for the growing army of GLA civil servants.
The Crystal’s floor space is only 60 per cent of that available at City Hall, which Mr Bellamy said was originally designed to accommodate 426 people – the mayor, 25 assembly members and 400 staff.
As a result, 300 desks for GLA staff would be squeezed into the Palestra and at least 150 desks into the London Fire Brigade headquarters in Union Street, nearby in Southwark.
It would cost up to £8m to refurbish The Crystal and to get the Palestra and the fire brigade HQ ready for the influx of GLA staff.
A further £10m would have to be spent returning City Hall to the state it was in when it was first occupied, under the terms of the lease.
Ms Hall, chairwoman of the assembly’s budget committee, told Mr Bellamy: “It looks like you have got places for possibly 500 to 600 staff and you have admitted we have nearly 1,200 on the books. I just don’t know where you are going to be putting them.”