New multimillion pound contract confirmed as East Midlands businesses plan restoration opportunities
Businesses and suppliers in the East Midlands could be playing an even greater part in restoring the Palace of Westminster.
23rd February 2023
A group of 30 leading businesses and representatives from across the region attended a supplier event at Nottingham Trent University last week (23 February) to meet the team delivering Parliament’s Restoration and Renewal Programme to discuss how the complex work can support jobs and opportunities across the East Midlands.
Businesses in the region are already benefiting from the programme to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster. Nottingham based firm Littlefish partnered with Redditch-based IT company Version 1 has won a share of a contract worth £3.65 million in year one to deliver IT support services that will help the restoration programme to reduce their civil engineering costs, speed up delivery and improve risk management, through new and enhanced project planning software and systems.
Leading local experts in everything from cast iron to hydraulics, architecture and further education attended the event to share their skills and experience, and to hear from the team at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme about the approach to getting local businesses involved in the major project to restore the Palace of Westminster.
Andy Haynes, Commercial Director at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said:
“Nottingham and the East Midlands has a wealth of experience in new technology and construction in historic spaces, so it was brilliant to discuss with local business leaders how they could support the restoration of the Palace of Westminster in the future.
“There was a palpable passion for delivering great service and developing skills, which the Delivery Authority would be proud to support in the coming years.”
East Midlands Chamber director of partnerships David Pearson said:
“We often say the East Midlands is a Centre of Trading Excellence – a place where we are experts at making things, moving them and innovating in how we do this. Our business ecosystem is a rich and diverse one, with our companies already playing a key role on important projects around the world.
“The Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal programme is another important supply chain opportunity for our region and one we should seek to pursue with rigour, as it can help to inspire the next generation of talent in STEM industries, create apprenticeships and upskill our existing labour market.
“However, it is clear from the discussion with our members that there are some concerns to address, including the impact a major scheme like this could have in exacerbating existing skills gaps by absorbing the limited pool of workers with the relevant skills. By working together closely, the business community, education sector and Government can explore how to overcome these issues and ensure the legacy of this programme is not just felt in the preservation of a historic building, but in building our future workforce.”
The team delivering the Parliament restoration programme also viewed recent historic renovation works in Chatsworth House and the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Barnabas in Nottingham, whose architect - Augustus Pugin - also designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster.
Small to medium sized businesses across the country are already benefitting from the work to restore the Palace of Westminster. Last year, seven contracts worth £4m for Palace of Westminster building investigations were awarded to suppliers nationwide with five out of seven contract winners being classed as a small or medium enterprise (SME). There are already dozens of companies involved in the restoration effort.
The latest on the Restoration and Renewal Programme:
Both Houses of Parliament are committed to preserving the Palace for future generations.
The Palace is enormous and complex – the size of 16 football pitches, with the whole building sharing the same water, electric, sewage and gas system. Many of these services are 50+ years old and have reached the end of their lifespan. Hundreds of miles of pipes and cables need replacing. The scale of the challenge means more extensive and fundamental restoration and renewal is needed as part of the overall plan for the Parliamentary buildings. Currently there are dozens of major projects underway to repair and restore key parliamentary buildings by external firms and in-house teams including Strategic Estates, Digital, and Maintenance which the Restoration and Renewal programme will work closely with to learn from and build into the overall restoration plans for the Palace.
In July 2022 Members of both Houses agreed there needs to be a more aligned and integrated approach to future restoration, prioritising safety critical work before the formal go-ahead and options for the overall restoration are confirmed.
In November 2022, news of the possible discovery of the medieval Thames River wall underneath the Houses of Parliament was revealed by the extensive programme of building investigations by restoration teams last year. Specialists spent 4850 hours examining 160 rooms and drilling boreholes up to 70 metres deep to assess ground conditions around the Palace of Westminster. The surveys are helping restoration teams develop the most detailed ever record of the Palace of Westminster to inform decisions about essential restoration work.
These surveys will inform a set of options, being developed by the Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, for how significant elements of the restoration work will be delivered and the level of ambition for restoration work. This will include variations on the time and extent to which Members and staff are asked to move out of the Palace to allow disruptive and complex construction work to take place.
The volume and future scope of the main restoration works are not yet certain until approval is given by Members of both Houses to costed proposals, in advance of this Members will be asked to vote on a strategic case by the end of 2023.