The Palace of Westminster, home to the House of Lords and the House of Commons, is crumbling; cracks are getting bigger, rats have infested the leaky cellars, and the Tower of London is leaning. The cost to repair the UNESCO world heritage site and restore it to its class 1 grandeur is estimated to be £1 billion. To determine how best to implement future restoration, the UK government has (yet again) hired Deloitte Real Estate, Aecom and HOK to support with feasibility and planning studies.
That the historic buildings needed repairs has been known for some time, with “pre-feasibility” study run in 2012 identifying what needs to be done and the different options available for refurbishment. Last year December the Government subsequently hired a consortium of experts to carry out a detailed independent feasibility study, and come up with a comprehensive, and affordable, plan to restore the building to its former stature. The consortium, which consisted of consultants from Deloitte Real Estate, engineers from Aecom and architects HOK – was paid £2 million for its expert advice.
The so-called independent options appraisal (IOA) developed three broad options:
1. Continuing repairs and replacement of the fabric and systems of the Palace over an indefinite period of time;
2. A defined, rolling programme of more substantial repairs and replacement over a long period, but still working around continued use of the Palace; or
3. 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 IOA, which is expected to be published in June/July 2015, will form the basis for consultation and engagement in the next Parliament. A concrete decision on a preferred way forward for the Palace of Westminster’s Restoration and Renewal Programme is expected by spring 2016. In the meantime, to keep overall progress on track, the Government has decided to commission a range of further studies, all aimed at supporting the more detailed planning and design process that will follow the June/July 2015 decision. “This will keep the programme on track for a potential 2020/21 start date without anticipating the selection of a particular scenario,” says Richard Ware, Programme Director for Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal.
Based on the success of the previous (and current work), the programme has again turned to Deloitte, Aecom and HOK to support the detailed planning process. “We are delighted that further joint early stage analysis and planning will be progressed over the next 18 months in accordance with accepted best practice and drawing on all the recent mega-project successes of UK PLC,” says Alex Bell, the consortium’s Programme Director and a Partner of Deloitte Real Estate.