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Hunt begins for £4bn Parliament revamp chair

The search has begun to find a chair to oversee the £4bn restoration of the Houses of Parliament.

The Palace of Westminster Restoration Programme team has now started the recruitment process for the £40,000-a-year role to head up the scheme’s sponsor board.

The chair will lead the team overseeing the delivery body that will carry out parliament’s refurb, as well as holding it to account.

In February MPs voted 234 to 185 in favour of a “full and timely decant” of the Palace of Westminster.

A condition for choosing the decant option was to set up an Olympic-style delivery body and sponsor board to manage the work.

The chair will be one of five external industry figures to be appointed to the sponsor board. At least six MPs and Lords will making up the rest of the team.

Responsibilities of the board include choosing the companies and personnel for the delivery body, holding the delivery body to account and providing effective controls over use of public funds.

The chair will be required to work five days a month for their £40,000 annual salary, while sponsor board members will be paid £24,000 for a commitment of two days a month.

Requirements for the chair role include experience as a chair of an organisation in control of multi-billion-pound budgets, expertise working in a political environment, and a track record of delivering value-for-money programmes.

A Restoration Programme spokeswoman said client-side experience delivering major programmes was also preferable but not a necessity for the chair.

The application deadline for the chair and sponsor board roles is the end of May. Interviews will take place in June before a chair is picked prior to parliamentary recess in July.

Work on the restoration of parliament is set to begin in the mid-2020s, with the preferred option being to move MPs to Richmond House in nearby Whitehall, the former headquarters of the Department of Health. 

The House of Lords will likely be moved temporarily to the QEII building in Westminster.

Before work can commence, a bill will need to pass through parliament and achieve royal assent, a process that could take up to year.

Royal assent would give the project board and sponsor board statutory status.

Last July engineer CH2M and architect BDP were chosen to manage the restoration of the Houses of Parliament

The Restoration Programme told CN the contracts allowed for the firms to be easily novated into the delivery body if the sponsor board decides to do so.

The Houses of Parliament project is one of two planned restoration programmes taking place on the parliamentary estate in Westminster, with the £500m refurb of the parliament’s Northern Estate set to begin later this year.

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