City Hall is exploring simplifying the lease between its property arm and London International Exhibition Centre (LIEC), owners of the ExCeL centre, citing concerns that the document is too “complicated” to properly govern the organisations’ relationship or manage land surrounding the venue.
Originally drawn up in 2001 between the now defunct London Development Agency and ExCeL’s original owners, the 200 year lease was revised in 2008 when the centre was acquired by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company and entitles GLA Property Limited (GLAP) to a share of revenue generated by the development or leasehold disposal of land around the exhibition centre.
However a City Hall briefing document warns that the lease is based on “an historic masterplan which is now no longer relevant”, and that the plots of land designated in it “don’t allow for easy decision-making.”
When three plots were to be redeveloped in 2017, the lease’s complexity led to the two parties initially “being unable to agree” how much GLAP was entitled to receive.
Eventually a side agreement “outside of the terms of the lease” was reached but City Hall officials say the “cumbersome, time consuming” process “ultimately delayed the construction of new homes.”
Warning that the desire to include increased levels of affordable homes on other parts of the site would make further such agreements “necessary”, the officials propose addressing all the issues presented by the lease’s complexity by reviewing and restructuring the entire document.
A budget of £50,000 has been allocated to seek appropriate advice on doing so, including ensuring that any changes don’t undermine GLAP’s commercial interests or future receipts.
While officials are leading the work at this stage, it’s been stressed that the final decision on whether to proceed with any changes is likely to be made by Mayor Sadiq Khan.