The 150-year-old Houses of Parliament (the Palace of Westminster) are falling apart faster than they can be fixed, with the cost of maintenance and ongoing works doubling to £127 million a year during the three years to 2018/19.
That helped convince a review of the proposed multi-billion pound renovation of the building that the work should go ahead.
The choice of limestone from Anston Quarry in Yorkshire to rebuild the palace after the fire in 1834 has often been criticised. The 1,100-room palace seen today mostly dates from that rebuild, which created what is arguably the most important Gothic revivalist building in the world. It is the home of our democracy and a workplace for thousands of people. The building has played a unique role in our political history for 900 years.
In normal times, the Palace of Westminster (it remains a Royal Palace, even though it was designed specifically to house Parliament) has more than a million visitors a year, including 100,000 school children. It is a Grade I listed building and, with Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, constitutes part of the UNESCO Westminster World Heritage Site.
The plan is to transform the Palace of Westminster to be fit for the future as the working home for our democracy. It will be welcoming to all and a celebration of the rich heritage.
Everyone will move out of the Palace so the biggest heritage restoration ever undertaken in the UK can begin. The first essential step is to create temporary homes for the Commons and Lords.
The Restoration and Renewal Programme is committed to embedding sustainability across all phases of the Programme. Sustainability aspirations and objectives across the three pillars of sustainability have been developed and will be used to steer design, construction and operational decisions. The Restoration and Renewal Programme will be managed and governed in a two-tier structure, similar to the 2012 London Olympics and other successful infrastructure projects. The Sponsor Body is the single client accountable to Parliament and oversees a Delivery Authority, which carries out the work. This way of working was set up under new legislation, the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019.