Why is the situation so urgent?
Today the Palace of Westminster is falling apart faster than it can be repaired. Many features have not been renovated since it was built in the 19th century. The longer the essential work is left, the greater the risk of a catastrophic failure from fire, flooding or stone fall, bringing the work of Parliament to a sudden halt.
The Restoration and Renewal Programme has been set up to tackle all the work that needs to be done to protect the Palace’s heritage and ensure it can continue to serve as the home of the UK Parliament in the 21st century and beyond.
A huge challenge
The Palace has a floorplate the size of 16 football pitches with 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases, three miles of passageways, four principal floors with 65 different levels. It will be the biggest and most complex restoration ever undertaken in the UK.
The Palace has been neglected for decades. There has been significant under-investment since the Commons chamber was rebuilt after bombing during the Second World War. Pollution has caused extensive decay to stonework, the roofs and drainpipes are leaking, most of the 4,000 bronze windows need repair and the building is riddled with asbestos.
Patch and mend approach is failing
The patch and mend approach is failing, partly because this is a working parliament and major remedial work can only be tackled during holidays. According to the National Audit Office, between 2015-16 and 2018-19 Parliament spent £369 million on projects to keep the Palace in use. Over this four-year period, spending to maintain the Palace increased from £62 million to £127 million per year, totalling £369 million. Without significant restorative works, ongoing maintenance costs will further increase. There is a backlog of repairs estimated at over £1 billion.
Throughout the Palace there is poor disabled access and emergency evacuation procedures for those with limited mobility is unacceptable. Only one lift complies with modern safety and accessibility standards.