Summary of Benefits
The Northern Estate Programme will create a long-term legacy across the entire site.
The plans have been designed from the outset to deliver the maximum possible public benefit, not just while the temporary House of Commons Chamber is in operation but long into the future.
Once the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster is complete, the new facilities provided within the Northern Estate will also enable Parliament to consolidate its use of existing buildings and reduce running costs.
Enabling the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster
The proposals for the Northern Estate are the essential first step to secure the continued long-term future of the Palace of Westminster, arguably the most important listed building in the country. The proposals will enable the House of Commons to continue to function while the Palace of Westminster is restored.
Ensuring the continued functioning of British democracy
Throughout the period that it is in use, the temporary House of Commons Chamber, together with its associated facilities, will allow Parliament to continue to function effectively alongside the ministerial and governmental offices of Whitehall, 10 and 11 Downing Street, the Supreme Court, other institutions and government departments.
Significant heritage benefits
With major investment and sensitive improvements to listed buildings across the Northern Estate – including Norman Shaw North and South – their condition is greatly enhanced. Many of these buildings have not been comprehensively refurbished for more than 30 years, and these proposals will ensure their long-term conservation and continued use, whilst minimising changes to the historic character of Whitehall and Parliament Street.
Transforming access for people with disabilities
A priority of the Restoration and Renewal Programme will be to bring the Palace up to the modern accessibility standards that are expected of a public building and this is an essential component of the works to the Northern Estate as well. Accessibility across the whole Northern Estate site, including to the temporary House of Commons Chamber, will be vastly improved through the provision of new lifts and accessible facilities, reducing the changes in floor levels and providing stepfree entrances.
Modern facilities for Parliament
The proposals will create a fit-for-purpose modern estate for generations to come. The new Richmond House delivers much-needed new flexible workspace whilst major investment to upgrade the existing Northern Estate buildings has been a fundamental requirement of the Parliamentary Estate for many years.
A wider legacy for Parliament
The flexibility for future use built into the new Richmond House brings with it the potential to free up spaces within the Palace of Westminster itself. For example, some facilities could remain permanently based within the Northern Estate, allowing space within the Palace to be prioritised for improved public access and an expanded education programme.
The fastest route to delivery and the best value for money for the taxpayer
It is widely accepted that the works to the Palace of Westminster need to take place urgently given the current state of the building. Consequently, both Houses of Parliament have endorsed the plan to fully vacate the Palace. These proposals represent the fastest, best value option to deliver the required spaces and create a lasting legacy for Parliament.
A safe and secure environment for MPs, staff and visitors within a single site
Recent incidents have highlighted security risks so the plans have been developed to enable all MPs and their staff to work within a safe and secure site. It is also essential to remain in close proximity to the House of Lords and other Parliamentary and government buildings around Whitehall to allow the formal and informal interactions that take place between the two Houses and government departments to continue.
Improving public access to the House of Commons
Approximately one million people pass through Parliament’s doors every year, including schoolchildren, constituents, businesses, charities and tourists. Public engagement is a vital element of our Parliamentary democracy and the new spaces provided within Richmond House will maintain public access to the Chamber and Committee Rooms, alongside new education and participation spaces.
Sustainable and efficient buildings
These proposals will vastly improve the environmental performance of the Northern Estate buildings to mitigate the effects of climate change and would result in carbon emission reductions. The masterplan will deliver 60% less CO2 emissions for buildings on the Northern Estate, and 35% less CO2 emissions for Richmond House, compared to the baseline Building Regulations requirements. The proposals will help to ensure that the Parliamentary Estate achieves its target of becoming zero carbon by 2050.
A major economic boost
The works to the Northern Estate and the Restoration and Renewal Programme represent one of the UK’s most important construction projects. Suppliers, including small and medium sized enterprises across the country, will be engaged in supply chains and will benefit significantly from the main contractor spend across the life of the project. There is also a commitment to use social enterprises.
Supporting thousands of jobs with skills and training opportunities
Around 1,000 jobs will be sustained during the construction period, in addition to around 150 apprenticeships and jobs in the wider supply chain. The building contractors have committed to supporting under-represented groups and disadvantaged communities into the construction industry through leading programmes such as ‘Beonsite’ and ‘Building Futures’.