Palace of Westminster 'at risk of collapse' before planned refurb

The Palace of Westminster could 'collapse' if refurbishment work does not get underway, MPs have been warned.

A report published by the Commons' Public Accounts Committee this week said there was a 'real and rising risk that a catastrophic event will destroy the Palace before it is ever repaired and restored'.

Pointing to the £2 million worth of repairs that are needed every week to keep the palace running, the report blamed the years-long delay in progressing renewal projects for the current state of the 19th century structure.

The report said that following years of 'procrastination and debate', those in charge of the plans (the clerks of both houses), 'finally seem to acknowledge publicly the enormity of this task, for which they are now personally accountable, and the challenges ahead'.

MPs and Lords voted in 2018 to fully vacate the historic building and move to the neighbouring so-called Northern Estate. But a review of the multi-billion pound scheme – being led by BDP – resulted in an effective pause of the project in 2020. The decant plans had included proposals by AHMM for a temporary House of Commons, inserted within the Grade II*-listed 1980s Richmond House.

Official cancellation of those plans in 2021 was closely followed by the announcement of a review into future options for the palace itself, which MPs and Lords are due to decide on before the end of the year.

A UK Parliament spokesperson said: "We are already getting on with work across the Parliamentary estate to ensure the safety of those who work and visit here, and to support the continued business of Parliament. This includes planning for the large and complex restoration of the Palace of Westminster to preserve it for future generations.

"Last year, members of both houses agreed a more integrated approach to restoration, prioritising safety-critical work. The Restoration and Renewal Programme Board is shortlisting options for the restoration and members in both houses are expected to vote on the way forward later this year."

The Commons’ Public Accounts Committee added that, under the previous plans, it would have cost ‘between £7 billion to £13 billion if the palace decanted, lasting between 19 to 28 years; and £22 billion under continued presence, which could take up to 76 years’.

This story originally appeared on Architects' Journal

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