Pick Everard working on enhanced maintenance plan for Parliament restoration as ‘fallback option’

Aecom also working on plans to revive AHMM’s proposals to transform Whitehall’s Richmond House into a temporary House of Commons.

Pick Everard is working with the Parliamentary Estate on designing a “fallback option” for the Palace of Westminster’s restoration and renewal programme.

The practice is carrying out multidisciplinary work for the Strategic Estates team, which is investigating the possibility of “enhanced maintenance and improvement” at the crumbling grade I-listed building.

The work will feed into a report to be taken to Parliament next year, when a decision will be made on whether to choose a “full decant” or “continued presence” for MPs, peers, and palace staff.

Under a full decant, occupants will relocate to alternative premises for several years while the building is fully restored. The other option would see them shuffled around the building, with MPs potentially sitting in the House of Lords instead of the House of Commons while the work is carried out.

The Parliamentary Estate appointed Pick Everard earlier this year through a £60m framework that included BDP, Capita, and Purcell.

Chris Elliot, managing director of Strategic Estates, which manages the Parliamentary Estate, told Building Design that the work will look at the “length of durations of decant or temporary accommodation” required by the options for the building’s restoration.

The building has multiple issues, including crumbling brickwork, outdated services, and large amounts of asbestos, which could take more than a decade to address.

Elliot said Pick Everard is looking at “what is achievable, how the work could be done, how much of the work could be done and in how long a time period”.

The practice is working with the estate’s in-house team to develop an “assessment on what enhanced maintenance could look like… what the solutions might look like, how it could be designed, a full multidisciplinary service”, Elliot said.

Both houses of Parliament endorsed the two main restoration options in July 2023 but asked that a “fallback option of enhanced maintenance and improvement forms part of further detailed design work on these options to inform a decision on the preferred way forward in due course.”

This third option would be compared against costed proposals for a full decant or continued presence in the building to help the client board, a joint department of the two houses of Parliament, decide.

Meanwhile, Aecom is working with the Parliamentary Estate on reviving plans for AHMM’s aborted plan to transform Richmond House on Whitehall into a temporary House of Commons.
The plans would have gutted the grade II*-listed former headquarters of the Department of Health and rebuilt the interior with a new chamber for MPs, but they were withdrawn in 2021.
Elliot said it was still too early to say what the new proposals for Richmond House could look like, but the scheme’s requirements had “continued to develop and evolve” since AHMM’s plans were withdrawn.

Two years ago, a report said restoring the Palace of Westminster could take up to 76 years and cost nearly £50bn if MPs do not move out during the works.

Other work on the estate includes restoring the grade I-listed Norman Shaw North building on Whitehall to address issues with falling masonry.

Why does Parliament require urgent and major work?

The Palace of Westminster has a floorplate the size of 16 football pitches with 1,100 rooms 100 staircases, three miles of passageways, flour floors and 65 different levels.
Some of the key challenges, according to the sponsor body, include:

The palace’s high risk of sudden failure from major fire, flood or stone fall.

The heating, ventilation, water and electrical systems are outdated and steam pipes run alongside electrical cables throughout the building.

The sewage ejector system installed in 1888 is still in use today.

Hundreds of miles of cabling need replacing and more that 1,000 spaces contain asbestos.

Thousands of ventilation shafts need upgrading to protect the building against a major fire.