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Understanding the public’s view report published

Understanding the public’s view report published

More than 20,000 people from across all four nations of the UK have shared their views about the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster.

Thousands of schoolchildren took part in 103 classroom debates about the future of the Palace of Westminster as part of a new report by the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme, outlining the views of more than 20,000 people who took part in a wide range of engagement activities all over the UK. Members of the public and more than 6,000 schoolchildren were among those who shared their opinions on restoring the Palace of Westminster, one of the world’s most iconic buildings. 

The report found that people value the Palace of Westminster and want it to be restored and protected for future generations. While the cost of restoring Parliament is a big concern for most people, many are concerned about the building’s current condition and their highest priority is ensuring the safety of building users and of the building itself.  

Sarah Johnson, CEO, Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body, said:

"Understanding the views of the public is incredibly important to the nationally significant programme to restore the Palace of Westminster and I’m incredibly grateful to the more than 20,000 people who took the time to tell us what they think about the home of our nation’s democracy."

David Goldstone, CEO, Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said:

“More than 20,000 people have told us what they think about the iconic Houses of Parliament building, giving us a deep understanding of how the public thinks we should preserve the Palace of Westminster for future generations.”  

Tours of Parliament, sixteen in-depth conversations in communities around the country, workshops for disabled people, and 103 debates in schools nationwide were attended by thousands of children who told restoration teams what they think about the Palace of Westminster. 

Quantitative public polling research within the report, undertaken on a quarterly basis, also found that: 

  • Up to 75% of people think the Palace of Westminster should be protected and preserved for future generations.  
  • People across the UK felt the building is important and valued for its history, architecture and symbolism, with 75%-80% agreeing that “it is an important part of my country and history”.  
  • 70-85% of people felt that “creating thousands of jobs working on the project” is an important benefit of restoring Parliament, with people feeling it is important to spread these benefits across the whole of the UK.  
  • People feel Parliament should set an example for accessibility particularly for disabled people, with 82-85% of people considering “making the building more accessible for people with disabilities” an important benefit of the Programme.   
  • Over 80% of participants thought that improving the energy efficiency of the building was an important benefit of the Programme, although this is tempered for some by concerns about cost.  
  • Concerns about the overall cost of restoring Parliament rose from 58% to 72% between November 2020 and August 2021, but people generally conclude that investing enough to deal with problems properly now would be worthwhile to save money in the long term.
Young people share their views on the restoration and renewal of Parliament during a workshop held at The People's History Museum in Manchester
Young people share their views on the restoration and renewal of Parliament during a workshop held at The People's History Museum in Manchester

Next steps on the restoration and renewal of Parliament 

Since January, restoration and renewal programme teams have examined 2,089 spaces across the Palace of Westminster. Surveys conducted throughout the last Parliamentary recesses included a thermographic study of heat loss from the building, examination of room spaces, and studying conditions just under the surface of the ground to measure tree roots and other obstructions which could impair restoration works. Over summer, a series of boreholes will be drilled throughout the Palace to understand the ground conditions around the building. 

In March, the Commissions of both Houses of Parliament met to discuss the future of the Restoration and Renewal Programme, following concerns over the emerging costs and timescales of the existing approach, and programme governance. In June, both Commissions agreed that the programme of works should initially focus on the following priority areas:   

  • Fire safety and protection   
  • Replacement of mechanical, electrical, drainage and plumbing, and data and communications systems 
  • Asbestos management and wider health and safety issues 
  • Conservation of the building fabric including stonework.     

Subject to agreement of the Commissions’ recommendations by the two Houses, the programme will develop options, guided by the R&R Delivery Authority, which will include a variety of ways in which the works can be delivered, including minimising the time and extent to which Members and staff are asked to move out of the Palace and different levels of ambition for the works.    

The Delivery Authority will place a high priority on continuing with the already planned programme of intrusive surveys, and other necessary work to inform future decisions, as swiftly as possible. 

A revised mandate for the works and changes to the sponsorship function will be sought from the two Houses, which is currently planned to take place before the summer recess. 

Sarah Johnson, the CEO of the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body, announced in May her intention to step down. Dr Patsy Richards, currently Director of Workplace Transformation in the House of Commons, will become interim CEO of the Sponsor Body in the coming weeks.

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