Palace of Westminster from across the river
Palace of Westminster © Historic England
Palace of Westminster © Historic England

Palace of Westminster Options Appraisal report released today

Today sees the release of an Independent Options Appraisal, a report to decide how best to programme and manage major works, alongside on-going conservation repairs at the Palace of Westminster. The report, commissioned by the Houses of Parliament, is in response to the need to replace out-of-date services throughout the Palace of Westminster and ensure that the building is fit for purpose for the 21st century.

Historic England is not involved at this stage as the report is concerned more with issues of timing and logistics than detailed works proposals but we will be reading the report and hope to be able to publish our comments next week. Throughout the Parliamentary Estate, there is a continual repair programme but there are always pressures of budget and of programming necessary works without disrupting the business of the Houses of Parliament. There is now the need to carry out a full re-servicing, and asbestos removal and the building will need to be at least partially emptied whilst this goes on. The report will outline ways to phase and plan this work.

Our Role - Historic England Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson on the report

“We welcome the debate on the future of the Palace of Westminster. It is cherished the world over as a symbol of democracy. The decision on which of the options laid out in the Deloitte report is for the House to make. We stand ready to do our best for this historic building as a contributor to the next stage, the subsequent planning process.

“Whichever option is selected, it is important to remember that we are not looking at an issue simply of cost. We are talking about a very important investment in England’s future. Our heritage has a huge impact on tourism and our creative industries, as well as national pride and identity. A programme of repair will create jobs, apprenticeships, a resurgence in the crafts and trades that this country is famous for. These crafts and skills are integral to looking after historic places and will have a knock-on effect on many other industries and places.

“It is not just about the people who inhabit the building now. It about what it has witnessed and what it represents. For 900 years the Palace of Westminster has been the centre of our national life and is the physical embodiment of democracy. We are all committed to working with the House to ensure that Barry and Pugin’s iconic building remains at the heart of our democratic life as a nation, whilst being fit for purpose for the 21st century.”

We are supporting on-going conservation works with advice. These include:

  • servicing and fire protection
  • stone cleaning and repair
  • repairs to the historic cast iron roofs
  • repairs to the decorative encaustic tile floors following 160 years of heavy wear and tear
  • archaeological excavations