18 July 2017

Contracts awarded to help ensure safe and secure future of Palace of Westminster

BDP and CH2M have been selected to take forward vital work that needs to be done to protect the heritage of the Palace of Westminster from the substantial and growing risk of failure of its essential services. This follows a procurement process run by Parliament, and will help ensure the continued running of a safe, secure and viable home for the UK Parliament.

The Palace of Westminster is a Grade I listed building, and, with Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, is part of the UNESCO Westminster World Heritage site.

Since its construction in the mid-1800s, many features and systems in the Palace have never undergone a major renovation, and the heating, ventilation, water, drainage and electrical systems are extremely antiquated. In awarding these contracts, Parliament can take forward the crucial work required to safeguard the Palace and keep Parliament running. An urgent programme of mechanical and electrical (M&E) repair work which began in 2009 only protects the Palace until 2020 and only addresses those systems at highest risk of failure. These contracts will provide for a new round of medium-term M&E work, to ensure that the Palace remains safe and habitable beyond 2020.

The work will also include detailed exploration of the condition of the building, a building-wide security strategy, planning for a major programme of asbestos removal, and fire safety improvements. Parliament expects to spend around £12 million under these two contracts over the rest of this financial year.

The successful bidders, both of which submitted the best value for money bids, with highest overall score combining quality and price, are:

  • BDP for Lot 1 – Architectural and building design services.
  • CH2M for Lot 2 – Programme, project and cost management services.

This preliminary work does not affect decisions on which option the two Houses may want to consider in any future debates on a way forward for a Restoration and Renewal Programme for the Palace of Westminster, but will lay the groundwork for a longer-term strategy that will protect the heritage of the building and ensure it can continue to serve as home to the UK Parliament in the 21st century. Work that companies may be asked to carry out at this early stage will be option neutral, that is, will be required whichever delivery option Members of both Houses may choose.

This next, detailed preparatory stage will ensure Parliament is ready to commission design work once Members of both Houses have made a decision in principle and will ensure that taxpayers, as well as Government and Parliament, can be confident that the final proposal is the most cost-effective, and ensures value for money for taxpayers. Before the final go-ahead for the chosen option is given, a detailed design brief, business case and budget will be developed for Parliament’s approval.

Brian Finnimore, Managing Director of Parliament’s Strategic Estates team, said: “We are delighted to be making these contract announcements today, as an important step towards our goal of preserving the Palace of Westminster for future generations. We look forward to working with BDP and CH2M to ensure the Palace remains safe and secure for the more than a million people, including 100,000 schoolchildren, who visit Parliament each year.”

“We welcome BDP and CH2M on board, and the expertise they will bring in architectural and engineering design and in delivering projects. We have seen from other major public projects that effort put into early planning is rewarded later with financial savings, so this appointment now will help put value for money for the taxpayer at the heart of this essential work.”

Tim Leach, Architect Director at BDP, said: “It’s an enormous privilege for the practice to be entrusted with helping to safeguard the Palace of Westminster, this international symbol of democracy and our society’s shared values. This new programme of work presents the unique and very special challenge of responding to the needs of Parliament and its visitors, and conserving its historic fabric for this and all future generations.”

Jonathan Baker, Managing Director of the National Governments client sector at CH2M said: “We are delighted to have been named as the provider of programme, project and cost services for this important work. CH2M has a strong record of delivering solutions for complex and challenging programmes and we are honoured to be working in collaboration with the Restoration and Renewal Team to help preserve and enhance the use of the Palace for future generations.”