Cost of Sadiq Khan’s new City Hall tops £30 million
he cost of Sadiq Khan’s new City Hall has increased by almost £2m – taking the total bill above £30m.
Critics today said the mayor was “foolish” to abandon the purpose-built City Hall beside Tower Bridge, opened by the Queen in 2002, for a converted small conference centre in the Royal Docks.
Mr Khan decided in November 2020 to move the Greater London Authority to the former Crystal building, which it owned, in a bid to save £55m over five years in the cost of renting the old City Hall and to help regenerate east London.
Now it has emerged the total cost of converting the Crystal has reached £25.5m. An additional £4.6m has also been spent in “landlord costs” – but the mayor’s aides say this would have been incurred regardless of which organisation had moved into the building.
Caroline Pidgeon, a Lib Dem member of the London Assembly, said: “Moving City Hall has saved very little to the public purse out of the Mayor’s annual £20 billion budget. The new building is not fit for purpose and even more money is now having to be spent to make it work for the GLA staff who are based there.
“This was a foolish decision by the Mayor, leaving the iconic, purpose-built City Hall building empty next to Tower Bridge.”
A newly-published mayoral decision form reveals that Mr Khan authorised an additional £1.936m of expenditure, by the GLA subsidiary that holds the freehold of the new City Hall, on additional repairs and improvements.
The “key driver” has been “unanticipated increases in security” and the difficulty of retro-fitting systems to an existing building, according to a City Hall report. Extra money has had to be spent on consultants.
Higher costs were also incurred updating the building’s “green infrastructure”. It has been described as the “greenest City Hall in the world”, but staff and politicians have suffered “fluctuating temperatures”.
Electrical problems were uncovered when the building, built by Siemens in 2012, was being refurbished. An “extensive area” of flooring had to be replaced, while the pandemic and “global supply chain issues” caused delays.
The GLA said it had “not been well served” by its main contractor and was forced to find other companies to tackle defects and complete snagging work.
The first meeting in the new City Hall took place in January 2022, but it did not fully open until March last year, about six months behind schedule. Many assembly members believe the move from central London has diminished the status of the GLA.
Ongoing problems include huge queues to pass through security at the monthly Mayor’s Question Time and the loudspeaker system cutting in and out in the chamber, meaning the mayor cannot be heard.
A small number of staff have been given compensation because of higher travel costs. In addition, the GLA has seen a fall in income from renting out City Hall – only seven out of 91 events in the first year have generated cash, compared with 44 out of 99 in the old City Hall.
Susan Hall, leader of the City Hall Conservatives, said: “The Crystal was never going to be a right location for City Hall, and it is no surprise that Sadiq Khan is having to waste yet more money getting the building into shape.
“This fiasco has made City Hall far less accessible to the public we serve.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor said: “The relocation of City Hall to the Royal Docks is saving £58m over five years, even after taking into account costs associated with leaving the expensive old building.
“This saving is being invested in London’s recovery from the pandemic and protecting vital services including policing, the London Fire Brigade and the transport network.
“This overall saving to the taxpayer includes a higher level of one-off costs than previously expected but is still £3m more than when initially forecasted when Sadiq announced the proposals in June 2020.”