Palace of Westminster revamp cost could top £7bn, Parliament warned

MPs and Peers face a tough decision between moving out to accelerate programme and reduce cost over six years or staying put to operate around the work for up to 40 years.

Houses of Parliament

Work to upgrade and restore the historic Grade 1 listed Houses of Parliament in central London is set to cost between £3.9bn and £5.9bn, according to an independent appraisal of options published today.

However, the report makes clear that, depending on how MPs and Peers decide to carry out the work and on the actual condition found when it starts, the bill could even reach £7.1bn.

“Our analysis indicates that restoration and renewal of the UK’s most famous building will be a challenging and potentially expensive exercise,” Alex Bell, Deloitte

The work could take as long as 40 years to complete. However, under the scenario where the building is completely vacated this time is expected to fall to just 6 years.

“We are at the very early stage of a large and complex programme,” explained Alex Bell, the Independent Options Appraisal (IOA) report lead and partner at Deloitte. 

“Our analysis indicates that restoration and renewal of the UK’s most famous building will be a challenging and potentially expensive exercise,” he added. “Members and peers face unenviable decisions although recent mega projects success stories such as London 2012 and Crossrail demonstrate the UKs capability to deliver such projects successfully.”

The IOA report was carried out by a consortium of AECOM, architect HOK and Deloitte and follows 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 tables 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 presents 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

“Clearly the decision will be driven by how the work is carried out and less so by what,” said Bell. “There is greater potential to reduce risk through the use of a full decamp and greater scope.”

However, he stressed that at this stage the report did not have and view on which of the options was considered the best.

This decision will be made by a joint committee made up from MPs and Peers which will assess the five preferred options presented in the report and make a recommendation to both Houses. A decision over which option to pursue, which will fire the starting gun on further design and preparatory work, is expected early next year.

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