Palace of Westminster committee seeks public’s views on multi billion renovation

The Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster has launched a Call for Evidence, inviting the public to share its views on a planned major restoration and renewal programme at the world recognised site.

The Committee was appointed by the two Houses of Parliament in July 2015 to consider the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster and its task is to make a recommendation about the best way to approach the restoration and renewal programme which is intended to start during the 2020 Parliament.

The Palace of Westminster is a Grade I listed building and, with Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Deadline for written evidence is 22 January 2016. Areas the Committee is inviting evidence on include:

  • What opportunities or benefits do you think a major restoration and renewal programme could present for Parliament and the wider public?
  • What changes do you think are required to the building to adapt to Parliament’s changing needs in the 21st century?
  • How should the heritage of the Palace of Westminster be conserved and safeguarded, while recognising that it is home to a busy working Parliament with regular public access?
  • What will be the major risks or challenges in delivering a Programme of this scale and how should they be addressed?

The project to renovate the palace will require a major investment by the country, with costs put at between £3.9bn and £7.1bn over a timescale of  up to 40 years.

An independent report was carried out by a consortium of AECOM, architect HOK and Deloitte following the decision by the authorities of the House of Commons and the House of Lords in October 2012 that the perilous state of the building – in particular its mechanical and electrical systems - meant a do-nothing option was no longer available. 

It tabled a range of options for renovating the entire Palace of Westminster complex which includes the famous debating chambers of the Commons and Lords, and three scenarios for delivering the project.

These delivery options include:

•   a rolling programme of renovation carried out which the 4000 plus occupants remaining largely insitu, likely to take 32 years - possibly as many as 40 years – to complete.   

•   a partial and phased decamp of parliamentary activities to see the House of Lords and Commons debating chambers temporarily relocated, likely to last between 9 and 14years – most likely 11 years.

•   a full decant of the entire building while work is carried out, lasting between 5 and 8 years - most likely 6 years.

The report presented a range of three potential outcomes for the building requiring increasing levels of design and construction activity:

•   minimum outcome -  restore and renovate the building and refit the mechanical and electrical equipment to bring it up to modern standards.

•   some improvement - a more thorough renovation of the building include upgrading of existing offices and the addition of new facilities  such as a media centre and energy centre 

•   significant improvement - a complete renovation, upgrade and remodelling of large areas of the building to enhance existing facilities create new covered courtyards and public areas to enhance the building as an operation centre and tourist attraction. 

Five preferred scenarios have been identified by the report as best meeting the scope set out previously by parliament. These are:

•   E1A: rolling programme - minimum outcome (32 years) - £5.7bn

•   2A: Partial move out – minimum outcome (11 years) - £3.9bn

•   2B: Partial move out – some improvement (11 years) - £4.4bn

•   3B: Full move out – some improvement (6 years) - £3.5bn

•   3B: Full move out – significant improvement (6 years) - £3.9bn

The full Call for Evidence and further details on the inquiry are available on the Committee’s webpage.

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