Parliament restoration plan under review

Aaron Morby 2 years ago
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The independent body set up to manage the £4bn-plus restoration of the Houses of Parliament has put the project on pause to re-examine fully the current plan.

An expert team set up by the new Sponsor Body in charge of the work will review all options for how the restoration programme should proceed, including new ways of working during the coronavirus outbreak.

They will also reassess the central decision taken five years ago to relocate all MPs and Lords to allow work to proceed. This was seen as the “best and most cost-effective” option.

The upgrade to the Northern Estate to create the temporary home for MPs will itself cost up to £1.6bn.

Sarah Johnson, the Sponsor Body CEO, said given the completely altered political and economic landscape, the review will need to be both deeper and more wide-ranging than initially anticipated.

She said: “The restoration and renewal of the Houses of Parliament will be the biggest and most complex heritage project ever undertaken in the UK.

“The Sponsor Body has been set up to ensure that the project is delivered in the most efficient way that delivers value for money.

“It is entirely appropriate that we should pause at this time to consider the validity of recommendations made over five years ago before either the Sponsor Body or Delivery Authority was formed.

“The impact of the current health crisis on public finances and Parliament’s ways of working has made it even more essential that we review both the strategy for relocating the two Houses and the scope of the restoration of the Palace.”

The Sponsor Body was formally established last month. It is the single client accountable to Parliament and oversees the Delivery Authority, which will carry out the work.

Johnson said she would involve infrastructure and programme management experts drawn from the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority to carry out the assessment.

She added that The House of Commons now contains many new Members elected for the first time who may well take a different view of Restoration and Renewal from Members in 2016.

It is also a very different Government which, even before the current crisis, had a clear set of priorities. In the light of Covid-19, there are likely to be other key drivers, arising mainly as a result of the impact on the economy, on public finances and on the population at large.

The Sponsor Body review is launched today and is expected to report in the autumn.

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