Sadiq Khan warns Covid pandemic has created an ‘existential threat’ to central London

Sadiq Khan warns Covid pandemic has created an ‘existential threat’ to central London

The coronavirus pandemic has created an ‘existential threat’ to central London, mayor Sadiq Khan warned today.  

In an interview, the mayor admitted that the change in working life brought about by the pandemic ‘keeps him awake at night’, particularly the fear that more commuters will choose to work in the suburbs rather than the city. 

It comes amid surveys which have suggested that people who have worked from home since March would now be reluctant to go back to their long commutes into packed city centres. 

Separate data has reveled a rise in house prices in suburbs around the capital, with people moving out of flats and city accommodation for more space outside London. 

Surveys have suggested that people who have worked from home since March would now be reluctant to go back to their long commutes into packed city centres

Surveys have suggested that people who have worked from home since March would now be reluctant to go back to their long commutes into packed city centres

Sadiq Khan has admitted he fears that the pandemic has created an 'existential threat' to central London

Sadiq Khan has admitted he fears that the pandemic has created an ‘existential threat’ to central London

Mr Khan told the Observer New Review: ‘I think we’ve got to accept the fact that there is potentially an existential threat to central London as we know it.

 ‘Are there going to be satellite-type offices in outer London because people may not want to work from home but in a co-working space in zone 5 or zone 4?’ 

His fears are driven by expectations that less people will want to cram togethr on public transport, even after the Covid threat starts to recede. 

Furthermore, studies have suggested that some people feel as if they are more efficient at work if they do not have to spend time travelling to and from central London offices.  

Despite his fears the mayor insisted that central London will remain a huge draw, pointing at its art galleries and cultural attractions, as well as the financial services sector. 

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Khan spoke about the impact the lockdown has had on the city financially, as well as on him personally. 

He accepted he ‘blinked’ first in negotiations with Boris Johnson over a £1 billion n grant and £500m loan for Transport for London that involved strict conditions. 

In an interview, the mayor admitted that the change in working life brought about by the pandemic 'keeps him awake at night'

In an interview, the mayor admitted that the change in working life brought about by the pandemic ‘keeps him awake at night’

And he also spoke about an ‘Action Plan’ to increase BAME representation in the Metropolitan police. 

Speaking about his personal situation, he said: ‘I found it really hard working from home. I’m lucky, I’ve got a wife and kids, and we get on in a decent-sized house. But I thrive on company, sharing ideas. Zoom meetings aren’t the same.’

It comes days after details of his £10million plan to move City Hall to the East End of London were revealed.

The mayor confirmed earlier this month that the Greater London Authority would be relocated from its current £43million home near Tower Bridge to The Crystal building in the Royal Docks.

The decision was first suggested in June as part of efforts to fill a black hole of almost £500 million in the capital’s budget following the coronavirus pandemic.

 Documents submitted to Newham council show how The Crystal – which is currently a conference and exhibition centre – will be altered to accommodate the Mayor and hundreds of City Hall staff.

According to London Assembly analysis reported by the Evening Standard, it would cost £6million to refit the building internally, £3.6million to upgrade its security and £1.5million to install necessary IT systems.

However, some residents are fiercely opposed to the move, with one saying it was ‘like selling a Rolls Royce to buy a Mercedes and then claiming to be frugal’.

The eye-catching current home of the GLA was designed by Norman Foster and only opened in 2002.

Its unusual shape and construction led to it being dubbed the ‘glass testicle’ by former mayor Ken Livingstone and the ‘glass gonad’ by Boris Johnson.

The lease was granted in 2001 for 25 years, but allows for a break in the contract after 20 years, in December 2021.

The mayor believes the current rent is above market value and set to rise to £12.6 million after December 2021.

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