How the plan is progressing
We will transform the Palace of Westminster, home of the Houses of Parliament, to be fit for the future as the working home for our democracy. It will be welcoming to all and a celebration of our rich heritage. At every stage we will ensure value for money for the taxpayer.
Everyone will move out of the Palace so the biggest heritage restoration ever undertaken in the UK can begin. The first essential step is to create temporary homes for the Commons and Lords.
In 2018 Parliament held debates in the Commons and Lords on restoration and renewal. Members collectively agreed that the “best and most cost-effective” way to carry out the work was in one single phase and for everyone to move out of the building temporarily. In 2019 a law was passed which set out how the work will be carried out under a two-tier governance system similar to the 2012 London Olympics and other successful infrastructure projects.
Under this structure, the Sponsor Body is the single client accountable to Parliament. It sets the scope, budget and timescale and will oversee a Delivery Authority, which will develop and deliver the work to the Sponsor Body’s requirements. There will be a rigorous review of options and costs and then a business case will be presented to both Houses of Parliament for their decision.
The first essential step
In the first essential step, work is now underway to create a temporary home for Parliament. Under current plans, the House of Commons is expected to make a temporary move to Richmond House, part of the parliamentary Northern Estate, on Whitehall. The House of Lords is expected to make a temporary move to the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, on Broad Sanctuary, opposite Westminster Abbey. Both projects are subject to planning permissions.
The proposals for the Northern Estate Programme will create a temporary House of Commons Chamber, committee rooms and offices, as well as deliver a long-term legacy for this existing parliamentary site. A public consultation was held in Spring 2019 and the plans for the Commons were adapted after consideration of all the feedback. Planning applications were submitted to Westminster City Council in autumn 2019. This redevelopment meets the requirements of a safe, secure working Parliament during the restoration of the Palace.
Subject to planning permissions, both Houses are expected to move into their temporary accommodation in the mid-2020s.
Work on the Palace
The restoration of the Palace is a huge challenge. It has a floorplate the size of 16 football pitches with 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases, three miles of passageways, four floors and 65 different levels. As we embark on this once-in-a-lifetime restoration, Members, staff and the public will be kept informed and engaged throughout.
Work has started on extensive surveys and inspections to better understand the condition of the building and these investigations will continue over the next two years. This covers all aspects of the Palace, including fire risk, asbestos, mechanical and engineering services, sewage and drainage, heating and ventilation and accessibility. The work will inform detailed architectural designs on every aspect of the building. Once the scope has been determined, and all the investigations are complete and designs agreed, the proposed approach to the works and costs will be put before both Houses for a decision.
After this business case is agreed, everyone who works in the Palace will move out in the mid-2020s so restoration can begin. Both Houses are expected to return when it is all complete in the early 2030s.
The Restoration and Renewal Programme is a major national infrastructure project. It will create thousands of jobs and extend economic across the regions of the UK. Given all the specialist skills required, the supply chain will involve many small and medium-sized companies and require an investment in training and apprenticeships. Parliament already works with specialists across the country, sourcing encaustic tiles from Ironbridge; cast iron roof tiles from Halifax, Sheffield and Chard; limestone from Doncaster and Clipsham; and slate from Ffestiniogg, North Wales.