Fresh hiatus will allow more time to cost rolling maintenance programme, new report says

The final decision on restoring the Palace of Westminster should be put off until after the general election, the committee overseeing the project has said.

MPs will not be presented with options for repairing the building until 2025, to allow more time for the cost of a rolling maintenance programme to be explored.

In a report published yesterday (Tuesday), the Restoration and Renewal Client Board, composed mainly of MPs and peers, said the further delay to a decision will “enable us to arrive at a detailed, robust and fully-costed plan for the works which commands the confidence of both Houses, and the public, as swiftly as possible”.


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A variety of options about how to upgrade the building is being discussed with a decision now due after the next general election

It said detailed cost estimates for a programme of “enhanced maintenance and improvement” have not yet been produced, and the delay will allow MPs and peers to make “a meaningful comparison” between the available options.

Two years ago, a report said restoring the Palace of Westminster could take up to 76 years and cost nearly £50bn if MPs do not move out during the works. 

Yesterday’s report confirmed an enhanced maintenance option is likely to be the most expensive and take the longest time, with work being done largely without either House having to leave the palace.

The other options include a “full decant”, which would see both the Commons and the Lords move to other venues in Westminster and a “continued presence” option which would see the Lords alone move out.

The full decant would see the Commons return to the palace after around eight years, with the Lords returning around three years later, while the continued presence option would see peers absent from the palace for up to 17 years. The cost of work has been put at between £7bn and £22bn.

The Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body has previously said the most costly element of the project will be replacing the building’s power network, sewage and water systems, gas and heating systems and data cables.

Asbestos will also need to be removed, masonry replaced, the basement excavated and the building’s fire safety and energy efficiency substantially improved.

The 2022 study found that keeping the building occupied while these works are carried out could pose “extreme hazards”, including around fire safety compliance with health and safety laws, noise and vibration and the inability of MPs to be recalled to the House of Commons. Parliamentary business and procedures might also need to be changed and new ways of working agreed.