Parliament restoration could ‘take 76 years and cost £22bn’
The restoration of the Houses of Parliament could take up to 76 years and cost over £20bn, a new report has warned.
The mammoth task of repairing the crumbling Palace of Westminster, which hosts the centre of the UK government, would be more costly and take longer than originally anticipated, the Houses of Parliament restoration and renewal body has said.
An initial cost and schedule assessment unveiled by the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body included separate estimates for the time it would take to repair the palace if MPs stayed put and if they decanted. The body also warned that it would need to undertake more work throughout 2022 to understand the full scale of works and costs needed.
The costs of decanting are set at between £7bn and £13bn. However, under one scenario those costs rise to between £11bn and £22bn.
MPs and Lords had previously been expected to decant from the building while restoration works were undertaken. However, the length of time that MPs and Lords would need to stay away has caused concern amongst MPs.
The “essential scheme” of works had a range of 19-28 years, with the Palace of Westminster vacated for between 12 and 20 years. However, the time needed to undertake works would rise significantly if MPs and Lords did not vacate the building, with estimate of time needed ranging from 46 to 76 years.
Works needed on the Palace of Westminster include the removal of asbestos which is found throughout the building, substantially reducing fire risk by introducing compartmentalisation and firefighting cores. Renewing the plumbing, electrics and data cables, improving energy efficiency and tackling the backlog of repairs which has built up over the years.
Work on the restoration of the Houses of Parliament had been halted after the discovery of previously unknown asbestos in the building.
According to the Huffington Post, renovation work had been stopped, with contractors and staff potentially exposed to asbestos over a two-month period late last year. It is understood that work has now recommenced.
On 8 February, a House of Lords commission agreed to plans to scrap the sponsor body for the restoration. However, it clarified that this should not happen “until further consideration had taken place and agreement had been reached on what should replace it”.
The Lords commission also instructed the delivery authority in charge of the Houses of Parliament restoration to focus on “intrusive surveys and other necessary work to enable progress in the meantime and to inform future decisions on the next steps”.