SAVE STATEMENT: Parliament’s Restoration & Renewal Sponsor Body to be wound up
10th February 2022
SAVE Britain's Heritage welcomes news published yesterday that Parliament’s Restoration & Renewal Sponsor Body is to be stood down and replaced by new body working directly for the House of Commons Commission and House of Lords Commission.
This is a splendid outcome for SAVE’s four year campaign to save grade II* Richmond House from demolition and rebuilding, on the basis that there are quicker, cheaper and better means of managing the urgent works of repair and renewing of outdated cabling and services to the Palace of Westminster.
The change of direction came when MPs were informed that the costs of the Restoration & Renewal programme had once again increased exponentially from the original £4 billion estimate to £14billion and would take up to 17 years to complete. The changes were confirmed at a House of Commons Commission Meeting on 1st February 2022.
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, says: "The recent completion of full roof repairs to the whole of the Palace of Westminster at a cost of £80 million, though barely noticed, show there are much cheaper and quicker ways of carrying out renovation. Cost of ever more ambitious plans under Restoration & Renewal have spun out of control, creating delays to other urgent work."
SAVE further welcomes the news that plans and proposals under discussion by the Sponsor Board will now be made public.
Westminster Repair Plans In Chaos After Parliamentary Authorities Scrap Delivery Body
9th February 2022
MP and peers could now remain in Parliament while works are undertaken on the Palace of Westminster following a decision to scrap the sponsor body.
It was announced on Wednesday that both the Commons and Lords commissions had agreed to "replace" the Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body which had been established to deliver the project.
A House of Lords spokesperson said "further consideration" would be needed before deciding on how to proceed with the plans.
MPs and peers agreed in 2018 to plans which would have seen them decant to nearby Richmond House - the first time they would have left the chamber since the Luftwaffe bombings in 1941.
But the sponor body - set up two years ago - reportedly prepared new estimates which would have seen costs rise to as much as £14bn and require MPs and peers to leave for 20 years.
A range of proposals was expected to be put before parliamentarians in 2023, with work expected to begin in the mid-2020s.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said Parliament would be expected to "justify to the taxpayer" the cost of repairs
The estimates came after ongoing surveys found damage to the Palace was more widespread than initially anticipated, with a spokesperson for the programme saying the detailed plans would be based on "tens of thousands of hours of building investigations."
Speaking last year, then-Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said Parliament would be expected to "justify to the taxpayer" the cost of repairs.
But following a meeting on Tuesday evening, the Lords Commission agreed with its Commons counterpart to scrap the sponsor body, saying decisions about its replacement should not be made "in haste".
In a summary of the meeting, the group said the sponsor body should "pare down" its activities with a focus on "essential work" until Parliament authorities received "independent advice and assurance" on how to proceed.
A House of Lords spokesperson said: "The House of Lords Commission is determined that the vital work to secure the future of the Palace of Westminster proceeds in a timely way that ensures the project can be delivered safely, and provide the best possible value for money," they said.
"The Commission agreed with the Commons Commission that the Sponsor Body should be replaced but not until further consideration has taken place and agreement had been reached on what should replace it. Any new proposed structure should be subject to external expert advice and assurance.
They added: "The priority for the Delivery Authority now must be to focus on delivering the planned intrusive surveys and other necessary work to enable progress to inform future decisions on the next steps."
See the article online here.
1. For more information and images contact Ben Oakley, conservation officer at SAVE Britain's Heritage: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7253 3500.
2. See here for our recent press release on the completed restoration of Parliament's historic roofs.
3. See here for our previous press release on Richmond House.
4. SAVE Britain's Heritage is a strong, independent voice in conservation that fights for threatened historic buildings and sustainable reuses. We stand apart from other organisations by bringing together architects, engineers, planners and investors to offer viable alternative proposals. Where necessary, and with expert advice, we take legal action to prevent major and needless losses.