BDP’s £4 billion refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament could be shelved in favour of a downsized scheme, it has been reported
According to The Times, the major renovation of the Houses of Parliament, which would require transferring MPs into a temporary chamber, is in doubt.
Instead, Commons authorities are considering a smaller £200 million programme of works to the House of Commons, whereby MPs would relocate to the House of Lords while peers sat in the nearby Queen Elizabeth II conference centre.
It would mean the AHMM-designed temporary chamber – involving the controversial refurbishment of Grade II*-listed Richmond House on Whitehall – would also be cancelled.
The Commons commission was expected to discuss the plan at a joint meeting with the Lords commission yesterday, but the proceedings were instead dominated by the coronavirus outbreak, The Times reports.
According to the newspaper, the reassessment of the restoration programme is supported by Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle, leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, and government chief whip Mark Spencer.
BDP, which won the restoration project in 2017, has previously described the job as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of its UK business and previously told the AJ it had 250 staff employed on it and associated projects.
In 2018, MPs voted narrowly in favour of leaving the Palace of Westminster while the huge programme of works was carried out.
The Grade I-listed landmark has never undergone major renovations since its construction in the mid-1800s and is considered a major fire risk.
It has a litany of issues including heating, ventilation, water, drainage and what BDP has described as ‘extremely antiquated’ electrical systems.
In October 2018, ministers brought forward a preliminary version of the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill, to establish Olympic-style bodies to oversee the huge scheme.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the Speaker’s Office and House of Commons Commission denied the report, saying: ‘No new R&R [restoration and refurbishment] plan was discussed at the House of Commons Commission meeting yesterday.’