March 2019 Issue 1

Restoration and Renewal – a 60 second guide

Remind me again, how big is the Restoration and Renewal Programme?

Big. Very big. The Palace itself is enormous, with more than 1,100 rooms. Or, put another way, it has approximately the same floor area as the HSBC tower in Canary Wharf.

And it looks old too….

Parts of it are really old – so old they’ve been around since 1099, and were built by King William Rufus, William the Conqueror’s son.

What about the work itself?

The work needed on the Palace is incredibly complex, from restoring over 3,000 bronze windows to repairing crumbling stonework to improving access across the Palace.

And don’t get me started on the basement, where most of the problems are.

Sounds challenging…

Absolutely. Basically, because of the size, age, history and structure of the Palace, it is thought to be the biggest and most complex renovation programme of any single building this country has known.

I get the picture. So who’s in charge?

Usually, Parliament manages its own estate – it has decades of experience of managing maintenance and other projects. It’s in charge of the works already underway on the Elizabeth Tower and Westminster Hall, for example.

But the Restoration and Renewal Programme is in a completely different league. The work will require engineering and construction capability beyond anything that Parliament has ever carried out.

Fair enough, so what’s the plan?

We’re proposing a structure with two separate bodies, similar to that adopted for the London 2012 Olympic Games. These bodies would be in charge of different parts of the Programme.

A Sponsor Board would supervise it, and propose the budget and how long it should take. And then a Delivery Authority would be in charge of delivering the work, on time and on budget.

Hang on, where does Parliament fit in?

It’s still a Parliamentary project and so Parliament has the final say, and gets to agree to whatever the Sponsor Board eventually proposes. That way we keep the Programme accountable to the wider public.

I’ve heard of the shadow Sponsor Board – that sounds a bit, well, shadowy?

Not really. The Sponsor Board was set up in shadow form so that it could start work straight away, until a law is passed to set it up as a statutory body, independent of Parliament.

So eventually the shadow Sponsor Board will make way for the statutory Sponsor Board?


And who’s doing all the planning and designing now?

It will be done eventually by the Delivery Authority. But until that’s established, planning and design for the delivery of the programme is being carried out within Parliament, managed by the Restoration and Renewal Programme Delivery Team.

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