Their £2m study will examine the feasibility and costs of a range of options for a restoration and renewal programme for the leaking and crumbing Houses of Parliament.
The appraisal was commissioned following the publication of a study in 2012 that showed the Palace of Westminster, home to the House of Commons and the House of Lords, was at risk of irreversible decline. Cracks in the walls are getting bigger, the cellars are rat-infested andgetting leakier, and the Big Ben clock tower is leaning. Estimates to underpin and repair the historic building have been put as high as £1bn.
Three broad approaches to the restoration and renewal work are being considered:
- continuing repairs and replacement of the fabric and systems of the Palace over an indefinite period of time;
- a defined, rolling programme of more substantial repairs and replacement over a long period, but still working around continued use of the Palace; or
- scheduling the works over a more concentrated period, with parliamentary activities moved elsewhere to allow unrestricted access to the Palace for the delivery of the works.
The appraisal will also explore the range of potential improvements that could be delivered under each of the implementation options, ranging from minimum statutory compliance to a substantial remodelling of the layout and facilities.
In a written statement to both Houses, John Thurso MP, spokesman for the House of Commons Commission, and Lord Sewel, chairman of committees in the House of Lords, announced: “Following their consideration of the Pre-Feasibility Study on the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster in October 2012, the House of Commons Commission and the House of Lords House Committee agreed that the next more detailed study should be carried out by an independent third party and that it should focus on the costs and technical issues associated with the remaining options.
“The contract for an independent options appraisal (IOA) has now been awarded to a consortium led by Deloitte Real Estate and including AECOM and HOK. This follows a rigorous evaluation and selection process. Work on the study is expected to begin early in 2014.
“The Palace will require very significant renovation in the years to come. The Commission and the House Committee recognised in 2012 that doing nothing is not an option. They accept their responsibilities as custodians of a great iconic building and the need to ensure its future. Selection of a preferred way forward is expected to occur during the course of the next Parliament, not this one.
“The contract for the IOA will set a maximum price of £2,019,295 and a fixed price (which may be lower but not higher) will be agreed two months into the contract once the consultants have become familiar with the extensive survey work already done on the Palace.”
The appraisal team will begin its work in January 2014, starting with a review of the three broad implementation options and a range of possible outcome levels. The findings will be drawn together in a final report that will describe each scenario in depth and draw on all available evidence to describe its cost, timescale, risks and benefits in a clear way that will enable Parliament to make further decisions in due course.
Both Houses will consider arrangements for release and consultation on the report in the New Year.
Deloitte Real Estate partner Alex Bell is the programme director for the contracting team. He said: “This is a hugely complex yet fascinating programme at possibly the UK’s most famous building and we are delighted to be selected to provide an independent appraisal of the options. Our team, Deloitte Real Estate, Aecom and HOK, have applied our complementary skill-sets to difficult and high profile real estate challenges across the public sector property portfolio, including Whitehall many times in the past. However, this programme has enthused our team at another level entirely and we are excited to begin.”
Andrew Barraclough, director at HOK, added: “We are delighted to have secured this important commission. Through our work in the Palace of Westminster over the last 20 years we have gained an in-depth knowledge and sensitivity towards the work of Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin; and our aim is to ensure this icon of Britishness is safe-guarded for future generations.”