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Cost Probe into Parliament Repair Plan

Friday, February 3, 2017

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A massive, multi-billion pound plan to renovate the crumbling Palace of Westminster in London is under investigation by parliamentary officials, reports relate.  

The Palace of Westminster is said to be in dire need of restoration work. The current plan is estimated to cost between £3.5 billion ($4.3 billion USD) and £4 billion ($5 billion USD) and would require officials to move out of the building for five to eight years, reports say. Some reports have put the restoration price tag at £7 billion.

©iStock.com / LiubovTerletska

Assessments of the Palace at Westminster have found that the structure is at risk for “catastrophic failure” of flood or fire.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee is set to oversee a further investigation into the restoration plans, citing budget concerns, The Architects' Journal (subscription) reported. Previous investigations by parliament and private consultants have failed to produce “sufficient evidence” regarding price, Treasury Select committee members claim, according to The Guardian.

Budget Concerns, Clock Work

The AJ noted that it is likely architectural firms that were shortlisted in 2015 to serve in the client advisor role may have look at the project budget again. The AJ reported that Foster + Partners, HOK, BDP, and Allies and Morrison were the shortlisted firms.

Meanwhile, a three-year, £29 million refurbishment project of Big Ben is set to begin this year. Officials warned that the clock was in a “chronic state” in 2015. During the repairs of the clock’s mechanism and tower itself, there will be no chimes.

The last "extensive" conservation work on the clock was carried out between 1983 and 1985.

Structure at Risk

There is little question that work needs to be done on the Palace of Westminster as a whole as well.

Assessments of the building condition have concluded that the structure is at risk for “catastrophic failure,” The Independent reports, noting that its plumbing and electrical infrastructure is “no longer fit for purpose.”

Restoration work is needed to install new piping and cabling; remove asbestos; restore 4,000 windows; repair crumbling stonework; repair damaged roofs; as well as other projects, the report noted.

The project is not due to start until after the next 2020 general election, however.

Alternative, less disruptive plans, including one that would establish temporary debating chambers in the building, are also under consideration, according to The Independent.

The Palace at Westminster was rebuilt in the mid-1800s following a fire and is a World Heritage site.


Tagged categories: Funding; Government; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Rehabilitation/Repair; Repair materials; Stone

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