Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

The need for the work

1.We endorse the findings of the Pre-Feasibility Study on the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster and conclude that there is a clear and pressing need to tackle the backlog of work required in a comprehensive and strategic manner. The mechanical and electrical services are the main driver for the Restoration and Renewal Programme, but there are many other essential works which should be tackled alongside this work as a matter of urgency, such as works to prevent water penetration, asbestos removal, fire safety works and replacement of secondary services. (Paragraph 75)

2.The longer the essential work is left, the greater the risk becomes that the building might suffer a sudden, catastrophic failure, or that small, incremental failures might make the building uninhabitable. The need to tackle the work speedily has greatly influenced our deliberations on the preferred way in which to deliver the work. (Paragraph 76)

Delivery option

3.The analysis in the Independent Options Appraisal, and all the independent, expert evidence we have received, have pointed us to one clear conclusion: that a full decant of the Palace of Westminster is the best delivery option in principle. It allows the works to be completed in the shortest possible timeframe, it minimises the risk of disruption to the day-to-day operation of Parliament, it is likely to involve the lowest capital cost, it minimises the risk to safety of construction operatives and occupants, it minimises the risk to the Programme itself, and it provides the greatest scope for meeting the needs of a 21st Century Parliament building. (Paragraph 127)

4.Subject to that option being determined to be feasible, achievable and cost-effective, and eventual validation by the Delivery Authority, we recommend that the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster should be conducted in a single phase, with both Houses moving out to temporary accommodation for the duration of the works. (Paragraph 128)

5.It is clear that the two Houses of Parliament and Government need to be located close to each other. The location of temporary accommodation a long way from Whitehall would add significantly to the cost and logistical complexity of the R&R Programme, and introduce numerous challenges for the smooth operation of both Parliament and Government. Furthermore, unnecessary additional cost can be avoided if Parliament can continue to make use of its current buildings on the Parliamentary Estate during the R&R Programme. We therefore conclude that the temporary accommodation for both Houses for the period of the R&R Programme should be located as close to the Palace of Westminster as possible. (Paragraph 138)

6.We recommend that, in the design and fit-out of any temporary accommodation, subject to the need for a cost-effective and economic solution, consideration be given to the possible uses to which the buildings might be put when the R&R Programme has concluded, including their onward sale if appropriate. (Paragraph 142)

7.Our recommendation for a full decant of the Palace of Westminster is contingent on suitable temporary accommodation being procured for both Houses. As far as possible, the solutions for temporary accommodation should enable the continued effective use of existing Parliamentary buildings, in order to minimise cost and disruption. When planning for decant, we recommend that the administrations of the two Houses should work together in order to ensure that the best use is made of existing Parliamentary buildings, including the sharing of buildings between the two Houses if required. (Paragraph 188)

8.The House of Commons already owns a number of buildings within the Northern Estate, and many MPs’ offices are located in those buildings. Subject to further feasibility work, value-for-money assessments and validation by the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority, we conclude that the best decant solution for the House of Commons appears to be a solution based around Richmond House and the Northern Estate. (Paragraph 189)

9.For the House of Lords, subject to further feasibility work, value-for-money assessments and validation by the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority, we conclude that the best decant solution appears to be the establishment of a temporary Chamber and supporting offices in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. (Paragraph 190)

10.For both Houses, it would be desirable for Members’ offices to be located as close to the temporary Chambers as possible, either within the same building, or very close by. In order to facilitate this, we recommend that the R&R Programme Team and, when established, the Sponsor Board and Delivery Authority, should continue to work with the Government Property Unit in order to identify space within the Government Estate, such as the Treasury building, which could be used for additional Members’ offices and other services. (Paragraph 191)

11.For both Houses, it will be vital to ensure that necessary provisions are made for the essential staff and offices which need to be located close to the Chambers. In contrast, during the period of the works, some services could be scaled back or provided differently in order to reduce the amount of temporary accommodation required and the cost of the Programme. The Programme Team is in the process of assessing the functions and services which need to be located close to the Chambers, and we recommend that Member and staff consultation should be factored into this ongoing work as a key priority. (Paragraph 192)

12.For both Houses, the temporary decant solution should be designed and constructed with legacy value in mind. Wherever possible, we recommend that the temporary provisions made for Chambers, Member and staff offices during the period of the works should be designed with a view to reusing or repurposing those buildings after the Restoration and Renewal Programme in a way which ensures best value for money for the taxpayer. (Paragraph 193)

13.The development of temporary accommodation for both Houses will require further feasibility work and detailed analysis. Although this work will be started by Parliamentary officials, it will be completed by the Delivery Authority once established. It is essential that Members and staff be involved and consulted throughout this process in order to ensure that the temporary accommodation adequately meets the needs and requirements of the users of those buildings, as well as being cost-effective. In order to guide the development of temporary accommodation options as part of the next phase of the Programme, we recommend a number of criteria for temporary accommodation, outlined in Box 2. (Paragraph 195)

14.We recommend that the final plans for temporary accommodation be drawn up by the Delivery Authority, for approval by the Sponsor Board and, ultimately, by both Houses. The Delivery Authority and the Sponsor Board, working together, will have to ensure that the temporary accommodation fully meets the needs of Members of both Houses and also represents good value for money, having regard to its use during the R&R Programme and to any possible legacy use afterwards. (Paragraph 196)

Scope of the Programme

15.It is clear that the Palace of Westminster lags behind many other public buildings in terms of its standards of visitor facilities, accessibility, working environment and environmental performance. There is also a significant amount of conservation work which is required to the building, over and above simply making it watertight. While each of these issues could be addressed in part by adopting a ‘bare minimum’ approach to the R&R Programme, there is also significant scope to go further and to make real, significant changes to the way in which the building operates and how people function within it. (Paragraph 241)

16.The Restoration and Renewal Programme represents a one-off opportunity to renew and transform the Palace of Westminster into a home fit for a 21st Century Parliament, while preserving the best aspects of its fine Victorian heritage. Future generations will not thank us if we fail to seize that opportunity, and instead preserve for posterity all the obstacles to public access and to the effective working of Parliament which the building currently embodies. We therefore conclude that it would be a mistake to miss this one-off opportunity, while essential works are being conducted to the Palace, to deliver other defined benefits as long as they offer excellent value for money at the same time. But nor should we spend taxpayers’ money on unnecessary embellishments and fripperies. (Paragraph 247)

17.It is not possible at this stage to provide a definitive list of the types of work that might be included in the Programme and more detailed specifications will need to be drawn up by the Delivery Authority in due course. However, we recommend that the scope of works should be extended beyond the basic ‘do minimum’ option, given that the marginal cost of much of this work will be relatively low, and there is the scope to achieve significant economies of scale by incorporating it into the wider Programme. (Paragraph 248)

18.A key test for all the design decisions for the Programme should be the delivery of value for money for the taxpayer. In the current fiscal climate, we will need to be able to demonstrate convincingly that every penny which is spent on the Programme, beyond the bare minimum which is needed to secure the future of the Palace of Westminster, delivers a clear benefit to the nation. The precise scope, quality and design of each area of work will need to be tested and considered in much greater detail as the Programme progresses, and then subjected to a rigorous business case. While we recommend that further works should be carried out in addition to the essential mechanical and electrical services, the cost of the Programme and potential value for money for the taxpayer will need to be considered and reviewed at every stage. The works should also be designed in order to equip Parliament for the future and to ensure that another programme of this scale is never required again. (Paragraph 249)

19.Subject to rigorous value-for-money assessments being conducted by the Delivery Authority, we recommend that, as well as the minimum, essential level of work required under the Restoration and Renewal Programme, both Houses should agree in principle to include in the scope of the Restoration and Renewal Programme additional improvements to the building. (Paragraph 250)

20.In order to guide the development of the brief for the Restoration and Renewal Programme, we recommend a series of Objectives and Guiding Principles for the R&R Programme, set out in Box 5. (Paragraph 252)

Governance of the Programme

21.A Programme of the size and complexity of Restoration and Renewal will require strong governance in order to set clear and realistic budgets and timescales, to ensure that the works are conducted in a way which ensures that the needs of both Houses are met, and to avoid changes to the scope of the work part way through the Programme. (Paragraph 270)

22.We recommend that a Sponsor Board should be established to oversee the delivery of the R&R Programme and to become a guardian for it. The Sponsor Board should include representatives from both Houses and Government, and possibly others with a heritage or construction background. Appointments to the Sponsor Board should be made with continuity in mind. The Sponsor Board should also be required to report to both Houses on a regular basis. (Paragraph 271)

23.We recommend that the Sponsor Board appoint an arm’s-length Delivery Authority to manage the delivery of the Programme. The Delivery Authority should be given responsibility for the delivery of the Programme and for ensuring that it is delivered on time, to budget and to specification. The Delivery Authority should also be responsible for validating Parliament’s preferred choices on the delivery option and scope of the Programme, as well as the temporary accommodation provided for both Houses. (Paragraph 272)

24.Given the need to proceed quickly with the Programme, we recommend that, subject to both Houses’ approval of this recommendation, the House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions should establish a Sponsor Board in shadow form. This shadow Sponsor Board would be able to make a start on all the essential work required for the Programme, before being formally established. The shadow Sponsor Board should begin the process of appointing a shadow Delivery Authority in order to initiate work on the Programme. The shadow Delivery Authority could also carry out the preparatory work required by the Delivery Authority, before being formally appointed. Enabling legislation should nonetheless still be introduced as soon as possible. (Paragraph 273)

25.We recommend that once a concept design, proposed budget and estimated schedule for the Programme have been developed, they must be approved by both Houses. (Paragraph 274)

Next steps

26.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. (Paragraph 299)

27.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. (Paragraph 300)

28.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. (Paragraph 306)

29.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. (Paragraph 307)

30.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. (Paragraph 308)

31.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. (Paragraph 313)

32.In order to guide the consultation and engagement with Westminster City Council, Historic England and others, we recommend the following key principles for the R&R Programme:

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