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Feilden + Mawson Parliament scheme angers Lords

Feilden + Mawson has won planning permission for a controversial temporary education centre next to the House of Commons.

But the £6 million centre for school children and young adults which will have a 10-year tenure has kicked up a storm among a number of Lords who are angered at its proposed site on Victoria Tower Gardens, a world heritage site, next to the House of Commons.

On Monday Tory Lord Flight told peers: ‘…Victoria Tower Gardens was created as an open space over 100 years ago to give a setting to the House of Lords building.

‘Surely it would be a grave mistake to build on nearly a quarter of it in a style not sympathetic to the Palace of Westminster.’

And Lord Sewell stated: ‘The House Committee has informed the House of Commons Commission that the House of Lords will not contribute to the capital costs of the demountable education centre, estimated to be over £6 million, on value for money grounds.’

The centre, which is due to complete next year, will allow the numbers of children visiting Parliament to increase from 45,000 to 100,000.

Designed in conjunction with landscape architect Kim Wilkie the one-storey building features a southern elevation with low eaves from which a planted roof raises up towards a glazed concourse.

Alan Robson, partner at Feilden + Mawson, said: ‘Victoria Tower Gardens abuts a World Heritage site so naturally coming up with an acceptable design proved very challenging. It has also been rewarding to design a scheme that aims to increase numbers of school children visiting the Palace to learn about our country’s democratic processes. The idea behind the design was something that was self-effacing, that enhances the surrounding park and the Palace of Westminster.’

Emma-Jane Watchorn, Head of Parliament’s Education Service, added: ‘Parliament’s Education Service provides a wide range of free resources designed to support the teaching and learning of political literacy in schools around the UK, and a visit to Parliament really helps bring democracy to life. We are delighted to have the opportunity to increase the number of schoolchildren that can experience Parliament in action. Over the coming years, this exciting new centre will help us inspire and connect hundreds of thousands of young people with Parliament and democracy.’

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