The formal planning application has been filed with Newham Council to convert the Crystal building into a replacement City Hall for London. As the building already exists, the planning application is minimal, being mainly a refurbishment of the interior to turn it from an exhibition centre into a town hall.

Externally, they say that the main changes will be to add security barriers around the back of the building for car parking and deliveries. They also want three flagpoles outside the front of the building.

Inside, most of the building remains the same, although the public areas will be revamped. There will be new civic functions in the creation of committee rooms and a chamber at ground floor. The ground floor continues to have exhibition/ conference space in the northern exhibition hall, with the new publicly accessible committee and meeting rooms, and staff workspace to the rear of the hall.

The south of the building’s ground floor will house the new chamber, public gallery, the existing café, public meeting space and the majority of the back of house space.

The existing split sex toilets are all to be reconfigured to offer gender-neutral facilities.

Proposed ground floor layout – from the planning application

In terms of travel, the planning report notes the existing local transport – the DLR at Royal Victoria and the Jubilee line at Canning Town are both relatively short walks from the new City Hall.

In the future, it’ll be about 10 minutes from the Elizabeth line, and about 5 minutes from the planned Thames Wharf DLR station that will be opening in 2025. Other upgrades include more trains for the DLR in 2022, refurbishment of Royal Victoria DLR to give it much longer platform shelters in 2023, and improvements to Canning Town wayfinding. A further 50 cycle parking spaces are proposed at the northern boundary of the site for public short-stay use, bringing the site to 116 covered cycle parking spaces.

There was no mention of any intention to add cycle hire stands on the site.

If Newham council approve the planning application, then refurbishment is expected to start in January 2021 with the building opening in late 2021.

The planning application documents are here.


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  1. JP says:

    Is the lease up on the gonad by the bridge then?

    Is it because they can, because there’s a surfeit in the accounts, or because of more public officialdom’s blessings of regeneration?
    If so, what’s wrong with sticking it in Canvey? Or Deal?

    • ChrisC says:

      Yes the lease is up.

      Moving it will save money in rent and other costs. The GLA already owns the new building.

      Ian has written extensively about both previously,

      I think the HQ of the GLA needs to be in London and not Essex or Kent.

  2. Terry Jones says:

    seems like a workable and economical change, for once.
    what will happen to the current HQ? let me guess… flats.

    • Lynne says:

      Flats – How did you guess and very expensive ones
      no doubt. Possibly some “affordable?” We will see.

  3. Chris Rogers says:

    “I think the HQ of the GLA needs to be in London and not Essex or Kent.” Well, significant chunks of London ARE in Essex and Kent, and Middx, and Herts etc. Greater London isn’t just postcoded London is it.

    • ChrisC says:

      Are those areas covered by the Greater London Authority geographic area?

      What London Boroughs are Canvey Island and Deal located within?

  4. JP says:

    To be clear and less facetious, I think that the new owned building is too far from the centre of government and indeed London for that matter, is all.

  5. Lionel Ward says:

    Hi Ian,

    Just wanted to thank you for your brilliant website and writing

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