A temporary home for the House of Commons
The first essential step to enable the restoration and renewal of the Palace is for the House of Commons to move to the Northern Estate, part of the parliamentary estate on Whitehall. This will allow MPs to work within a single secure site.
Detailed proposals have been drawn up for the Northern Estate, a collection of 18th to 21st century buildings, most of which are listed and are already in use by MPs, their staff and House of Commons staff. These buildings need significant investment to bring them up to modern environmental standards, enable access for people with disabilities and create efficient workspaces.
The plan also includes creating a temporary Commons Chamber within a substantially redeveloped Richmond House, a Grade II* listed building, which housed the Department of Health until 2017. After public consultation and some refinement of the original proposals, Parliament submitted planning applications to Westminster City Council in autumn 2019. The Council is currently conducting its own statutory consultation. If planning permission is granted, construction work is expected to start on the site later this year and is due to be completed in the mid-2020s.
The temporary House of Commons Chamber, together with its associated offices, committee rooms and other key facilities, will ensure the continued functioning of British democracy while work on the Palace of Westminster is completed. The plans for the Northern Estate will also provide for a flexible legacy for Parliament.
The temporary Chamber in Richmond House will replicate the familiar character and layout of the existing Commons Chamber but will provide a greater level of accessibility for MPs and visitors, including wheelchair access to the public gallery.
Safety and security
Recent incidents have highlighted security risks so the plans have been developed to enable all MPs and their staff to work within a single, safe and secure site. It is also essential to remain close to the House of Lords and other parliamentary and government buildings around Whitehall to allow formal and informal interactions to continue.