‘Half a building site’: New Docklands City Hall opens but construction unfinished

The Greater London Authority has moved to its new home in the Royal Docklands which opened for the first time - but is set to close again, as work on the site is ongoing.
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The new City Hall building has opened - despite construction work on the site still being  incomplete.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has relocated the Greater London Authority (GLA) from its former home at Tower Bridge to the site formerly dubbed The Crystal in the Royal Docklands.

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The building opened for the first time yesterday with a public Mayor’s Question Time (MQT) session in the new chamber from 10am.

The new City Hall building, pictured on Tuesday, is still a “building site”. Photo: Susan HallThe new City Hall building, pictured on Tuesday, is still a “building site”. Photo: Susan Hall
The new City Hall building, pictured on Tuesday, is still a “building site”. Photo: Susan Hall

But the site on Kamal Chunchie Way, in Newham, named after a race relations campaigner, closed again at 2pm, as work on the site is ongoing.

Susan Hall, leader of the GLA Conservative group, criticised the delay to the £14m refurbishment as a “ridiculous situation”.

The new City Hall building is incomplete. Photo: Susan HallThe new City Hall building is incomplete. Photo: Susan Hall
The new City Hall building is incomplete. Photo: Susan Hall
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Speaking to LondonWorld, she said: “The building will eventually be okay but not in comparison with the purpose built building - not at all - and access is dreadful.

“It’s taken me two hours to get here both today and Tuesday and apparently there are no good cycling routes, I’m told.

“I certainly wouldn’t cycle from northwest London.”

In a series of tweets about the relocation, Ms Hall said: “The second floor is closed - more than half the building is closed because it’s still a building site.

“It opens tomorrow for MQT and then closes again at 2pm because half is still a building site - ridiculous situation!”

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She also described the new site as “freezing cold in the chamber”.

While Conservative colleague Neil Garratt added: “We were meant to move in in the autumn and then by Christmas. Until recently, we were moving in January and although mayoral questions is there today, it’s still not finished and we can’t actually move until late February.”

He said: “It is only open until 2pm today. All committee meetings will stay in Union Street and that’s where our offices will remain until late February.

During the Q&A session, members reported issues with the temperature in the building, with the mayor even wearing a scarf.

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After two hours, Ms Hall said: “I didn’t think I would be as frozen as we were in the old [City Hall].

“My feet, and I know the mayor’s are, are absolutely frozen. If anybody has control of the ‘on’ switch, can we have the heating on?”

London Assembly chairman Andrew Boff said staff were aware of the issue and he had been “assured this will be resolved in the future”.

The mayor travelled to the new building via the Tube, taking the Northern and Jubilee Lines and the DLR.

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He said: “I’m excited today that we are opening this new chapter in City Hall’s and London’s history.

“I’m also optimistic that our presence here in the Royal Docks can act as  a catalyst for greater economic activity, job creation and investment and the growth and success of local businesses.”

While Mr Boff said: “This is the start of an exciting new chapter in the government of London, now that we have moved even further east.”

The GLA will continue working at the London Fire Brigade headquarters in Union Street, Southwark, until the completion of the new City Hall site.

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