UK Politics

Parliament - study to advise on repair work

Ariel view of the Palace of Westminster
Image caption The Palace of Westminster is increasingly in a state of disrepair

External consultants have been appointed to consider options for the refit of the Palace of Westminster.

Extensive work is required to re-wire the historic parliamentary estate, to remove asbestos, repair roofs and modernise heating and ventilation.

No decision on how the work will be carried out and over what period will be made before the 2015 election.

One option mooted in the past is for Parliament to move to a different site while the restoration is completed.

Deloitte Real Estate, appointed by the parliamentary authorities to lead the study, which will cost a maximum of £2m, said it would "explore a number of ways in which Parliament can remain operational whilst implementing long overdue essential works".

"This is a hugely complex yet fascinating programme at possibly the UK's most famous building," said Deloitte's Alex Bell - whose firm will be supported by architects HOK and management support firm AECOM.

'Iconic building'

The consortium will advise the parliamentary authorities whether to carry on repairing the building piecemeal as now, attempt a full renovation while Parliament is still sitting in the Palace, or find another venue for Parliament to sit in while the empty Palace is renovated.

In a statement, the House of Commons Commission said the Palace of Westminster would need "significant renovation" and that "doing nothing is not an option".

"They (the authorities) accept their responsibilities as custodians of a great iconic building and the need to ensure its future," said Lib Dem MP John Thurso, who sits on the commission.

"Selection of a preferred way forward is expected to occur during the course of the next Parliament, not this one."

Future renovation work is unlikely to begin before 2018 at the earliest.

The majority of the historic building was built as a replacement for a previous amalgamation of buildings which burnt down in 1834.

The Commons chamber was destroyed in the blitz in 1941 and after some debate it was decided that it should be rebuilt in exactly the same style after the war.

In 2011, consultants confirmed that the Elizabeth Clock Tower - which includes Big Ben - was leaning but that it would not be a serious structural issue for about 10,000 years.

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