ICE gives evidence to Parliament on restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster

David Hirst CEng FICE, who Chairs ICE’s Management Panel, was giving evidence to the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster as it seeks views on the restoration and renewal of the Palace.

David Hirst chairs the ICE Management Expert Panel
David Hirst chairs the ICE Management Expert Panel

The Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme has been established to tackle the significant work that needs to be done to protect and preserve the heritage of the Palace of Westminster and ensure it can continue to serve as home to the UK Parliament in the 21st century and beyond.

He concluded that a full decant of occupants offered best value for public money saying "Giving clear access to a range of contractors over a period of time offers the simplest, best and lowest risk option."

"Partial decant would include quite a lot of working around existing activities. You would end up taking up a lot more space to allow existing activities to carry on. It would be quite difficult to co-ordinate and more expensive as a result.

"Continuing maintenance on a larger scale without decanting, we would never see the end of. It is beyond the working lifetime of the people involved and the scope of works would necessarily change during the lifetime of that scale of works."

He warned that the project needed a clear vision early on, in order to realise the opportunities that were on offer.

David's appearance at the session, besides experts from RICS, RIBA and CIBSE, follows ICE's written submission to the Committee which asked for input from members of the public and interested groups.

ICE has a long history of offering evidence and insight to Government consultations on a range of built environment issues. As a leading voice on procurement, risk management and major project management, ICE is expertly placed to offer input to this high profile project of national and historical significance and submitted written evidence earlier this year.

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ICE's submission offered evidence on the scope of the work as well as how the work should be delivered. Amongst the recommendations were to ensure that the project is properly resourced and funded, with highly capable and experienced professionals and adequate contingency provisions.

The submission also looked at the question of how best to deal with occupants of the palace for the duration of the work. The options being looked at are to undertake the work with either a fully occupied palace on a 'rolling' programme of works basis, a partial decant of occupants, or a full decant of occupants.

After having examined the pros and cons of each options, the report declared that option 3 of a full decant was likely to offer the best value for money. Whilst the evidence points to a compelling case for this option, the report stated that Parliament needs to be satisfied that acceptable decant arrangements can be provided for both Houses during the likely decant period of 6 years.