First glimpse of £1.5bn Palace of Westminster upkeep framework

Contractors have been alerted to a bumper workload to keep the Palace of Westminster safe.

A new £1.5bn framework will help “prevent future deterioration” of the site’s mechanical, electrical, public health, fire and life safety systems, as well as its building fabric, roofing and stonework, according to a prior information notice (PIN) published this week.

“[The framework will also] maintain a safe and secure environment in and around the Palace of Westminster, and the wider Parliamentary Estate,” the notice said.

Attempts to carry out large-scale restoration at the Palace of Westminster have been beset with problem and it remains unclear whether politicians will have to leave the Palace during the works. The latest framework is for urgent works to keep the site safe pending a decision on a larger overhaul.

The framework itself will be split into four lots based on the value and focus of the work.

The first focuses on high-value construction works of any discipline, worth £30m or more, while the second will be for medium construction works worth between £3m and £30m and will focus mainly on mechanical and electrical work.

Lot three will also be for medium-value construction work, mainly architectural, heritage, roofing and conservational work. Meanwhile, the fourth lot will be for low-value work worth up to £3m.

A contract notice is expected in July 2024.

The tender documents do not include some parts of the site, including the Victoria Tower, which also needs substantial repair work. A tender document to cover groundworks, decorating, roof work and other construction operations at the tower is expected later this month.

Meanwhile, the chief executives of both the UK Parliament Restoration and Renewal (R&R) Delivery Authority and the R&R Client Team are set to retire this year. The publication of a new strategic case for future works on the Palace of Westminster was seen as a good opportunity for leadership transition.

Parliament is now looking at three different options for the Palace: decanting the Houses of Parliament during the work; a continued presence during the renovation; or rolling works to deliver maintenance and improvement instead of a full renovation job.

The body in charge of revamping the Palace has also resurrected plans to move the House of Lords to the nearby Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, two years after these plans were dropped.

It also suggested temporarily moving the House of Commons to Richmond House in Whitehall.

By next year it will bring “a detailed, robust and fully costed plan” to the Houses of Parliament for the project.

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