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Sat October 19 2019

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HS2 director tasked with overseeing Palace of Westminster restoration

10 Oct The parliamentary authorities have begun to put in place organisational structures to deliver the planned £3.5bn restoration and refurbishment of the crumbling Palace of Westminster.

Sarah Johnson, chief executive of the shadow sponsor body
Sarah Johnson, chief executive of the shadow sponsor body

HS2 director Sarah Johnson started work this week in a new job as chief executive of the shadow sponsor body, the client-side organisation that will oversee the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster.

Sarah Johnson had been corporate sponsorship director of HS2 since August 2017. Before that she was with Crossail, as chief of staff and then head of Transport for London’s sponsor team.

The Palace of Westminster Restoration & Renewal Programme has been established to tackle the work that needs to be done to reverse the literal crumbling, rotting and disintegration of parliament. (The metaphorical rot may take even more work.)

The shadow sponsor body was established in 2018 to set the scope, budget and timescale of the Restoration & Renewal Programme, and oversee a delivery authority with the technical expertise to commission and execute the work. Sarah Johnson will head up the executive team which, together with a sponsor board, will oversee the works.

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Parliament this week passed The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019 which sets out in law how the work will be carried out under this two-tier governance system. The legislation provides for a six-month transition period, with the governing bodies being set up in the spring of 2020.

The structure is similar to that which delivered infrastructure for the 2012 London Olympics.

“The sponsor body’s task is immense – to transform the Palace of Westminster into a home fit for the future for our Parliament,” said Sarah Johnson. “I’m looking forward to getting down to business and am excited by the challenges ahead.”

Below is a short film from 2013 setting the scene, showing why work is needed.

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