The plan agreed by Parliament
The decision making process
Both Houses appoint a study group to examine the options for tackling the work on the Palace. The report said ‘doing nothing was not an option’.
December 2013 – June 2015
A consortium is appointed to produce an Independent Options Appraisal with illustrative costs and timescales for a major refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster. Published in June 2015, this compares three options – a rolling programme of works whilst the building remains in use; the refurbishment of half the building at a time with each House vacating in turn; and the full move out of the Palace of Westminster enabling all works to be delivered together. The report concludes the fully vacated option is the lowest cost, fastest option and ‘provides the best opportunity to mitigate disruption and nuisance over the long-term.’
A Joint Select Committee, made up of Members of both Houses, is set up to consider the findings of the Independent Options Appraisal report and recommendations. At this time, the Restoration and Renewal Programme began assessing a variety of temporary accommodation sites for the Palace of Westminster.
A review of potential relocation options is conducted by the Restoration and Renewal Programme team alongside the Joint Committee deliberations. Given the well-established need to be in close proximity to Government departments in and around Westminster, this included Horse Guards Parade, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, HM Treasury, QEII Conference Centre and Richmond House on Whitehall.
A review of potential relocation options is conducted by the Restoration and Renewal Programme team taking into account advice from the Joint Committee and in consultation with the Government Property Unit. Given the well-established need to be in proximity to Government departments in and around Westminster, this process filters down over 100 sites in London through a long-listing and short-listing process, assessed against a range of Critical Success Factors and Investment Objectives.
Following its year-long inquiry, the Committee concludes that the lowest risk, most cost-effective and quickest option to undertake the essential works would be for all Members and staff to move out of the Palace temporarily in one single phase while works take place. It also concludes that ‘the best decant solution for the House of Commons appears to be based around Richmond House and the Northern Estate.’ The preferred option for the House of Lords is to be temporarily relocated to the QEII Conference Centre, subject to further feasibility work.
The Murphy Perimeter Security Review, which followed the Westminster attacks in March 2017, strengthens the case for MPs’ accommodation to be located within a continuous single secure site. Of all the potential options considered, only the Northern Estate provides such space within a secure perimeter.
January – February 2018
The Government tables two motions on restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster, with a debate in the House of Commons in late January and in the Lords in early February. Both Houses back the decision for a full move as the ‘best and most cost-effective way’ of carrying out the works.
The Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill is introduced to Parliament. This seeks to establish the statutory bodies, comprising the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body and the Delivery Authority, which will be responsible for the restoration and renewal works within the Parliamentary estate.
Consultation plans are published for Parliament’s Northern Estate, with a series of public exhibitions and consultation meetings held.
The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill receives Royal Assent.
Indicative Development Timeline
Legislation to formally establish a Delivery Authority and Sponsor Board, similar to those used for the London Olympics, receives Royal Assent.
The Northern Estate Programme submits a suite of seven planning applications to Westminster City Council, who will undertake a statutory consultation before determining the planning application in early 2020.
Subject to planning approvals, construction work begins on the Northern Estate.
Public consultation for works to the QEII Conference Centre, to provide temporary accommodation for the House of Lords, followed by the submission of planning applications to Westminster City Council.
Refurbishment works on the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) are complete.
Planning applications are submitted for restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster.
Work is expected to be completed across both the Northern Estate site and at the QEII Conference Centre to enable the temporary relocation of Parliament.
Work begins on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster.
Restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster is complete, enabling the functions of the House of Commons and House of Lords to move back.
Consolidation of buildings within the Parliamentary Estate to reduce running costs.
Selecting the site for a temporary House of Commons
During the public consultation, we were asked to provide more detail about the alternative options that were explored. These were all considered during the lengthy down-selection process and we have summarised below the reasons for them being discounted.
Portcullis House was discounted based on a number of security, technical and engineering challenges. It would still require significant additional space to be created elsewhere on the estate as it would fail to meet the space requirements as well as requiring an additional phase of decant.
Horseguards Parade was ruled out primarily due to its distance from other buildings on the Parliamentary Estate and potential security risks to Members of both Houses who would be moving between sites.
Westminster Hall was ruled out due to the early 19th century floor not being structurally strong enough to support a chamber, and changes in temperature resulting from associated services would pose a threat to the medieval roof.
HM Treasury was ruled out for a number of reasons including difficulties obtaining the site, structural limitations, access and servicing constraints.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office courtyard was primarily ruled out for security reasons, as well as constrained access, and impact to the Grade 1 listed courtyard.
Additionally, the requirement that all MPs and the chamber be located within a single secure site can only be achieved at the Northern Estate site.
The Northern Estate site is also assessed to provide by far the strongest legacy benefit.