North East England leaders and businesses plan opportunities for working on Palace of Westminster restoration
North East England business and suppliers could play their part in restoring the Palace of Westminster. Over 25 local businesses from across the North East, from Newcastle to Middlesbrough attended the event in Darlington last week (Thursday).
Local businesses and suppliers discussed with the team delivering Parliament’s restoration programme how the complex work can support jobs and opportunities across the North East.
1st February 2023
Small to medium sized businesses are already benefitting from the work to restore the Palace of Westminster. Last year, seven contracts worth £4m for Palace of Westminster building investigations were awarded to suppliers across the country with five out of seven contract winners being classed as a small or medium enterprise (SME). There are already dozens of companies involved in the restoration effort and supporting jobs and apprenticeships.
Leading local experts in everything from manufacturing to architecture, lift design to upholstery, engineering and archaeology were all in attendance at the event to share their skills and experience, and to hear from the team at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme about the approach to getting local businesses involved in the major project to restore the Palace.
Andy Haynes, Commercial Director at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said:
‘It was fantastic to be in Tees Valley and discuss with local business leaders how they could support the restoration of the Palace of Westminster in the future. Parliament represents every individual and region around the country, so it's really important that we make the most of the skills here in the North East, as we involve businesses across the whole of the UK in restoring the historic Palace of Westminster.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said:
“Our brilliant local businesses contain a wealth of expertise that would make them ideally placed to help drive forward this restoration. Working on such a prestigious project will highlight our companies to the UK and further put us on the map.”
John McCabe, Chief Executive and Roundtable Chair, North East England Chamber of Commerce said:
“This was a great opportunity to showcase the diversity of skills and experience North East businesses can bring to the project to restore the Houses of Parliament. It was refreshing to see the project team come up to the region to meet with Chamber members and provide an overview of how they can engage with the project. I firmly believe our guests left with a clear understanding of the expertise they can call upon from the North East and I hope this was just the first step in a process that will see businesses from our region playing their part in such a huge and historic project.”
Both Houses of Parliament are committed to preserving the Palace for future generations.
The Palace is enormous and complex – the size of 16 football pitches, with the whole building sharing the same water, electric, sewage and gas system. Many of these services are 50+ years old and have reached the end of their lifespan. Hundreds of miles of pipes and cables need replacing. The scale of the challenge means more extensive and fundamental restoration and renewal is needed as part of the overall plan for the Parliamentary buildings. Currently there are dozens of major projects underway to repair and restore key parliamentary buildings by external firms and in-house teams including Strategic Estates, Digital, and Maintenance which the Restoration and Renewal programme will work closely with to learn from and build into the overall restoration plans for the Palace.
In July 2022 Members of both Houses agreed there needs to be a more aligned and integrated approach to future restoration, prioritising safety critical work before the formal go-ahead and options for the overall restoration are confirmed.
In November 2022, news of the possible discovery of the medieval Thames River wall underneath the Houses of Parliament was revealed by the extensive programme of building investigations by restoration teams last year. Specialists spent 4850 hours examining 160 rooms and drilling boreholes up to 70 metres deep to assess ground conditions around the Palace of Westminster. The surveys are helping restoration teams develop the most detailed ever record of the Palace of Westminster to inform decisions about essential restoration work.
These surveys will inform a set of options, being developed by the Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, for how significant elements of the restoration work will be delivered and the level of ambition for restoration work. This will include variations on the time and extent to which Members and staff are asked to move out of the Palace to allow disruptive and complex construction work to take place.
The volume and future scope of the main restoration works are not yet certain until approval is given by Members of both Houses to costed proposals, in advance of this Members will be asked to vote on a strategic case by the end of 2023.