275.As we explained in Chapter 1, this Committee was established following many years of previous work, and our inquiry has been one of a series of steps in the development of the R&R Programme. Our job was to make recommendations on the preferred option for the delivery and scope of the Programme, as well as the next steps. We have now completed our work and hope that the conclusions outlined in this report will enable both Houses to make informed decisions on these options, and allow the Programme to proceed effectively to the next stage.
276.Throughout our inquiry it has become increasingly apparent that the works to the Palace of Westminster are now pressing and that momentum on the R&R Programme needs to be maintained. We have therefore devoted considerable attention to considering, with Parliament’s senior officials, the next steps for the Programme and the key points at which Parliament will need to take decisions. Figure 9 outlines some of the key next steps that we recommend should be taken, which are discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs. It is important to stress that no firm timescales for each of these stages have yet been established, and that the indicative timings shown in Figure 9 do not represent a predicted schedule for the Programme. While Figure 9 provides an indication of the types of activities which will need to take place over the coming months and years, at this early stage of the Programme, a degree of risk has been built into the timescales to provide contingency for delays as the Programme progresses, and it is likely that these estimated timescales will need to be amended in due course. It will be for the Delivery Authority, once established, to put together a more detailed schedule for the development of the Programme.
Figure 9: Next steps for the Restoration and Renewal Programme
277.Following the publication of this report, both Houses will be invited to debate our conclusions and agree to the establishment of a Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority, in order to allow the Programme to progress to its next stage. A draft Motion calling for the establishment of a Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority is contained in Box 6, at the end of this Chapter.
278.Once both Houses have approved the principle of establishing a Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority, and in order to prevent delays to the Programme, the House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions should consider the appointment of a shadow Sponsor Board. Once formed, the shadow Sponsor Board could begin the process of making early appointments to a shadow Delivery Authority.
279.When the shadow forms of the Sponsor Board and the Delivery Authority have been established, they would, in time, assume responsibility from the Programme Team for the essential work required to keep the Programme on track. During this interim period, any expenditure by those bodies would have to be approved by the Accounting Officers of both Houses, along with the House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions.
280.Draft legislation will be required in order to formally establish the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority on a statutory footing, as well as to establish any bespoke planning regimes required for the R&R Programme, and any other necessary measures. This legislation would outline the roles and remits of both the Sponsor Board and the Delivery Authority, and would also specify how members of the Sponsor Board should be appointed.
281.The Programme Team have already begun the process of developing a draft bill. Should both Houses confirm their intention to create a Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority (by passing the Motion proposed in Box 6), this draft bill will be developed further and brought forward soon.
282.Once the necessary legislation has received Royal Assent, the statutory forms of the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority would take control of the preparatory work completely, as well as manage their own budgets. The preparatory work to be carried out by the Delivery Authority will include the following areas.
283.The Delivery Authority, once established, must first analyse and validate our conclusion on the preferred delivery option, in order to confirm that it represents the best solution. Furthermore, a scenario involving a full decant will be dependent on appropriate temporary accommodation being found, as well as there being sufficient capacity in the construction and heritage sectors to deliver the works in one go. The Delivery Authority will therefore need to assess these areas in further detail and make a final recommendation on whether a full decant is viable.
284.We have identified Richmond House, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and 100 Parliament Street as our preferred locations for temporary accommodation on the basis of the information available at this point. However, feasibility work on all of these options is ongoing and further due diligence will be required in order to determine whether they can fully meet the needs of both Houses of Parliament. This work will need to involve negotiations on the possibilities for their acquisition, fit-out and preparation for occupation by Parliament.
285.In Chapter 4 we concluded that it would be a mistake to miss this one-off opportunity, while essential works are being conducted, to deliver other benefits. We therefore recommend that the scope of the works should be extended beyond the basic ‘do minimum’ option, as long as the marginal cost of the additional work is acceptable to Parliament in absolute terms, as well as relative to the total project. Any additional work factored into the R&R Programme will need to offer excellent value for money and be subjected to a rigorous business case. One of the tasks of the Delivery Authority should therefore be to carry out a value-for-money assessment of all the various elements of the R&R Programme, with a thorough analysis of the potential benefits of each area of work, as well as the costs. This will enable the Sponsor Board to choose between a range of properly costed options for the scope of the Programme.
286.In order to maintain momentum and to ensure that the Programme is not delayed, the Programme Team, under the authority of the House of Commons Commission and House of Lords House Committee, has already begun scoping work to assess the assets within the Palace of Westminster and the likely requirements. This information will be compiled into design briefs which will need to be provided to the designers commissioned for the Programme to enable them to understand the use of the building and to develop some detailed plans for the work.
287.Some of the work in technical, behind-the-scenes areas has already been conducted by the Programme Team; for example, thought has already been given to the types of heating and cooling technologies which might be required in the building, as well as to drainage, plumbing and security systems. However, there is still much more work to be done and, in order to develop the more substantive elements of the designs, it will be essential to consult Members, staff and others who work in the Palace, as well as the different types of visitors who use the building. Some consultation will need to be specific to each House, whereas some will need to be bicameral. It will be for the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority to determine exactly how such consultation should be conducted.
288.Following the validation and feasibility work, an Outline Business Case will need to be completed in order to justify the conclusions reached. This will need to include detailed proposals on the concept design and schedule for the works, as well as the proposed budget. This work will be continued by the Programme Team and then taken on by the Delivery Authority once established.
289.The Outline Business Case, including the concept design, schedule and budget, will need to be approved by both Houses and the Sponsor Board.
290.Following this approval, the Delivery Authority will be responsible for procuring the major works contracts, mobilising the supply chain, finalising the designs, seeking the necessary planning consents and embarking on other enabling activities.
291.Finally, once the steps above have been completed, works will commence on the Palace of Westminster.
292.No schedule has yet been set for the R&R Programme. For the purposes of comparing different scenarios, the IOA assumed in 2014 a possible start date of Q2 2020 for the construction works. However, given that Parliament has not yet chosen a preferred way forward, it will not be possible to begin the decant and works as soon as this. The list of essential stages outlined in Figure 9 indicates that, if the next steps are taken speedily, works on the Palace might be able to commence in or around 2023. It also demonstrates how slips at the beginning of the Programme might lead to delays further down the track.
293.Preparatory work has already begun on the steps listed in Figure 9, but further progress will be subject to various risks and uncertainties. While there are good reasons for wanting the works to begin as soon as possible, expert witnesses have told us that, with programmes of this size and complexity, time spent preparing for the works at the beginning generally pays off at the end. The Institution of Civil Engineers told us that one of the ways of mitigating procurement and construction risks would be to avoid significant change midway through the contract and noted that “time spent before letting the contract in getting the design and specification right will pay dividends.” Rushing to start work on site at the earliest opportunity will not, therefore, necessarily lead to the Programme being completed early.
294.One of the biggest dependencies for the R&R Programme will be the development of temporary accommodation. If further feasibility work does confirm that Richmond House and the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre are the preferred options for the House of Commons and House of Lords respectively, then the negotiations necessary in order to acquire the properties, negotiate the terms of occupation, develop the designs and gain planning consents could take several years.
295.In respect of Richmond House, there is a further complicating factor. The House of Commons has, for several years, been planning a programme to renovate the buildings currently in the Northern Estate. The main objects of the Northern Estate Programme (NEP) include making the buildings compliant with a range of regulatory and statutory building regulations, most notably fire safety, addressing significant weakness in the Northern Estate’s M&E plant, and addressing problems with plumbing and other facilities which affect occupants on a regular basis. Some of the many issues with the Northern Estate came to the fore in June 2016, when heavy rainfall led to significant flooding in the Norman Shaw buildings, leading to the decant of a large number of MPs’ offices during the week of the EU referendum.
296.It is intended that Members currently based in the Norman Shaw buildings will move into Richmond House in order to facilitate the NEP, before Richmond House can be developed for use under the R&R Programme. We have been assured by officials that, at current estimates, it should be possible to complete the NEP before decant and construction work for the R&R Programme needs to begin. However, given the high risks of M&E failure in the Palace, it is obvious that any unnecessary delays to the Programme should be avoided.
297.The governance of the NEP currently resides with the House of Commons Commission, as it is a programme which affects the House of Commons alone, whereas the R&R Programme is governed jointly by the House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions. While constitutional and administrative boundaries between the two Houses need to be respected, there would be merit in ensuring that these two Programmes are managed together in a coherent fashion.
298.We have also considered the possible end date of the R&R Programme; in particular, the date by which both Houses might be able to reoccupy the building. The IOA estimated that the construction period under a full decant could be in the range of five to eight years. Even if the works can be completed within the lower end of this range, it would mean that they would be likely to span two Parliaments. At the upper end of the range, if works do not start before 2023, there is the possibility that Parliament might be decanted for the whole of the 2025–30 Parliament. Given the significance of being able to sit and speak in the historic House of Commons Chamber, it would be preferable if the construction works were scheduled so that MPs elected in the 2020 general election could sit in the historic Chamber before decant, and those elected in 2025 could sit in the Chamber before the dissolution scheduled for April 2030.
299.Because of the deteriorating condition of the Palace infrastructure and the growing risk of operational disruption, the R&R Programme should begin at the earliest possible date. However, there must be sufficient lead time to ensure that the Programme is properly planned, designed and governed. Any proposed schedule for the works must also make contingency allowances for risks or delays.
300.The scope and timescales for the Northern Estate Programme may need to be reviewed and adjusted to meet the requirements of the R&R Programme. We recommend that the House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions should give further consideration to joining up and aligning the governance of the NEP and the R&R Programme, so that the two programmes can be managed in a coherent way while respecting the independence of both Houses.
301.One of the biggest jobs for the Delivery Authority will be managing the complex supply chain required for the R&R Programme. Because it delivers the Programme most quickly, a full decant would make the greatest demand on market capacity and capability because the work would be concentrated in the shortest period. If the Delivery Authority confirms our conclusions on the preferred delivery option, and Parliament ultimately decides to proceed via a full decant, the Programme will be particularly dependent on specialist skills which, especially in the heritage sector, tend to be found in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We have therefore been advised, and agree, that market engagement should begin at the earliest possible opportunity.
302.The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) said that, throughout the Programme, there would be a significant demand for specialist trades in order to maintain and restore the internal and external fabric of the building. This would require sufficient capacity in both the professional and craft skills in the heritage and conservation sector. RIBA noted that there was a “great skills shortage issue resulting from declining investment into the conservation sector and a large pipeline of works in the UK that would divert resources from the R&R Programme.” However, even without this pipeline of expected works, there might still be insufficient skills available in the market to tackle the scale of the challenge entailed in the R&R Programme. In their opinion, it would therefore be important to build skills capacity in professional and craft skills in the heritage and conservation sector. In this way, RIBA felt that the R&R Programme would be “an ideal opportunity for educating and training the next generation in the skills needed to maintain, repair and enhance the historic buildings and to be an ongoing exemplar project for those skills and craftsmanship.” Furthermore, RIBA told us that many of those skills were held in small or micro businesses and suggested that the procurement processes for the R&R Programme must therefore “embrace” those organisations.
303.Ms Lynda Jubb, Chair of the Building Conservation Forum at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), also noted that the heritage sector was characterised by small, independent firms, many of which were based outside London. In order to engage with those firms it would be important to have a strategy “to package the work to make it attractive to them.” She added that the R&R Programme could be an “exemplar project” demonstrating how training and the sustainability of skills could be built into large programmes. The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) also suggested that, rather than viewing the supply and capacity as a challenge, the R&R Programme provided a unique opportunity to develop a new generation of skilled heritage workers, through apprenticeships and other career development activity, and also to bring a significant number of young women into the sector.
304.This means that the main delivery partner or partners will need to be capable of mobilising and managing a complex supply chain, including multiple companies, from large construction companies to small, specialist firms. While this will be challenging it also brings opportunities to engage with SMEs, to spread the work well beyond London and the south-east of England, and to develop a strategy for training and creating apprenticeships that would leave a legacy of skills and experience. Parliament already employs many skilled craftspeople of its own, and we hope that their skills and their unparalleled knowledge of the building will also play an important part in the Programme.
305.The IOA advised that there would be a symbiotic relationship between the Programme and its supply chain. The eagerness of SMEs to engage with the Programme will depend upon a number of factors, including the consistency of strategy and intention of the Programme, the strength, internal unity and professionalism of the client, how any political risks are managed, and how much risk commercial partners are expected to carry. Early and consistent engagement with SMEs is therefore likely to be most effective. Furthermore, while procurement rules prevent contracts being awarded to companies based solely on their geographical location, early and sustained engagement with companies throughout the regions is likely to increase the number of businesses throughout the United Kingdom which tender for contracts. Requirements to engage with companies in the nations and regions of the United Kingdom could be built into the objectives for the Delivery Authority, as could a requirement to encourage and facilitate the involvement of SMEs.
306.Conducting the works in one phase will make a significant demand on market capacity and capability. A wide range of specialist trades will be required in a short space of time, and the Delivery Authority will need to be capable of managing a large and complex supply chain. We therefore recommend that market engagement should begin early, and be facilitated by the early establishment of a shadow Sponsor Board and shadow Delivery Authority.
307.The Programme will present significant opportunities to engage with small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the United Kingdom, especially those with specialist skills in the heritage and conservation sector. There is a risk that there will be a shortage of skills in those sectors and that a lack of capacity could hamper the R&R Programme. On the other hand, the Programme could also provide a significant opportunity to support the development of these skills and to increase capacity in these sectors. We recommend that the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority should consider how apprenticeships and other training schemes could be delivered as part of the R&R Programme, in order to increase capacity in this area and to provide a lasting legacy of skills from the Programme.
308.The Programme also provides an opportunity to engage with businesses, especially SMEs beyond London and the south-east of England. We recommend that the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority begin market engagement early, and ensure that such engagement reaches out as widely as possible.
309.The Palace is a Grade I listed building and forms part of the Westminster World Heritage Site. Any developments or adaptations to the building therefore have to be considered carefully and are subject to planning legislation (including listed building consent). Since the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, and the 2006 Order which applies it to Parliament, the primary decision-maker on planning applications for the Parliamentary Estate has been the planning committee at Westminster City Council, with Historic England (formerly English Heritage) as a statutory consultee. Westminster City Council is required to consult other interested organisations about heritage applications, including bodies such as the Victorian Society, the Council for British Archaeology and local interest groups. Applications may also be appealed or called in for review by the Greater London Authority or the Secretary of State if matters of wider London or national policy and significance are involved. With a construction project as large as the R&R Programme, planning issues have the potential to introduce delay and uncertainty which could significantly affect cost and the commencement of works.
310.The IOA concluded that, because of the historical significance of the Palace and the constraints which exist within the original design and fabric, there may be a need to ease compliance with some requirements under, for example, building regulations. It noted that a close dialogue with English Heritage (now Historic England) would be required “to reach agreement for alternative provision in areas where design flexibility can be accommodated.” As next steps, the IOA recommended early engagement with Westminster City Council and English Heritage (now Historic England).
311.Of course, it would be possible for Parliament to legislate to become its own planning authority, though Parliament might not wish to adopt such an approach unless absolutely necessary. Mr Feilden, Chair of the Conservation Advisory Group at RIBA, stressed that it would be important for Parliament not to “duck out of the planning and building system.” In his opinion, Parliament needed to “lead the country” in that respect. Ms Jubb also felt that Parliament needed to “demonstrate the higher standards of compliance.” However, she noted that Parliament should be able to make the protective heritage regimes work, and she suggested that heritage and planning issues should be built into the R&R programme as part of an “overall engagement and collaboration agenda,” to ensure that the protection regime was left “enhanced” rather than “disabled” at the end of the Programme.
312.We have not scrutinised the planning process in detail as part of our inquiry. In order to minimise delays to the Programme caused by planning issues, we are initially attracted to the idea of implementing a planning regime for the R&R Programme along similar lines to that used for nationally significant infrastructure projects. However, this is a matter which will require further detailed consideration before a conclusion is reached. As an initial next step, the Programme Team, and subsequently the Delivery Authority, will need to consult Westminster City Council, Historic England and other stakeholders about how a satisfactory planning regime could be established.
313.In restoring the Palace of Westminster, Parliament should ensure that it is an exemplar in following the protective regimes and regulations it has agreed for others. However, the R&R Programme will be a large and complex project, involving a nationally significant building in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The need to protect and conserve the building must be balanced against the requirement to modernise it for a 21st Century Parliament and its public. Parliament could legislate to become its own planning authority, though that might not be the preferred approach. We therefore recommend that officials in both Houses should begin engagement and consultation with Westminster City Council, Historic England and other interested bodies on the ways in which planning issues could be addressed throughout the Programme.
315.Many of our recommendations in this report are likely to require further work before they can be implemented, or will need further consultation with Members, staff and others. These matters will of course take time.
316.In the light of the deteriorating condition of the Palace of Westminster, and the pressing need to carry out a major renovation programme, it is essential that the R&R Programme now proceeds to its next stages without delay. Many of the conclusions in this report require further validation from the Delivery Authority, and many of our recommendations point towards the need for further work to be undertaken on the feasibility of our preferred scenarios. Therefore, in order for the Restoration and Renewal Programme to proceed effectively, it is essential that the necessary governance arrangements are put in place as soon as possible.
317.Furthermore, it is also important that both Houses should signify, at this stage, their endorsement in principle to the conclusions reached in this report on the delivery option and possible scope of the Programme.
318.We therefore recommend that both Houses should agree to the following Motion as soon as possible. Once agreed, this will allow Parliamentary authorities to begin the next stage of planning and preparation.
Box 6: Draft Motion for agreement by both Houses
That this House takes note of the report of the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster; agrees that there is a clear and pressing need to repair the services in the Palace of Westminster in a comprehensive and strategic manner to prevent catastrophic failure in the next decade; endorses the Committee’s opinion that a full decant of the Palace of Westminster is the best delivery option in principle; takes note of the case for considering additional work as part of the Programme, subject to its cost-effectiveness; endorses the Committee’s recommendation that a Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority be established by legislation to take forward work on the preferred delivery option, to develop a business case for the work to enable a costed programme to be approved by both Houses of Parliament, and to commission and oversee the work required; agrees that immediate steps be taken now to establish a shadow Sponsor Board and shadow Delivery Authority; and notes that works in the Palace should commence as early as possible in the next decade.
156 Written evidence from the Institution of Civil Engineers ()
157 This is on the assumption that the current electoral timetable under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 is not disrupted by an early parliamentary general election under s. 2 or by amendment of the Act.
158 Written evidence from the Royal Institute of British Architects ()
161 Supplementary written evidence from the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers ()
162 Deloitte LLP, , September 2014, Volume 1, p 126
163 The Westminster World Heritage site, which is monitored by UNESCO, consists of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, including St Margaret’s Church.
164 The Planning (Application to the Houses of Parliament) Order 2006
165 Deloitte LLP, , September 2014, Volume 1, p 143
166 Ibid., p 144