Parliament’s spending watchdog has backed plans for MPs to fully vacate the Palace of Westminster while restoration works take place – and called for a Crossrail-style delivery of the £4bn scheme.
The Public Accounts Committee’s Delivering Restoration and Renewal report said a full decant was the most economical, effective and efficient way to carry out the restoration of the “mother of all parliaments”.
The report lends weight to recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster six months ago that MPs should fully vacate the Palace while works take place.
Five options for restoring the worn down but iconic building were set out in 2015 by a consortium comprising consultant Aecom, structures specialist HOK and financial giant Deloitte.
The options appraisal said that if the palace remained inhabited, a rolling programme of works could last 32 years and cost £5.7bn. Both houses fully vacating the Palace would enable the project to be completed within six years for a shade under £4bn in 2014 prices, the report said.
The PAC report said today: “A full decant is the most efficient choice, allowing the work to be concluded in the shortest time with minimum disruption to the work of both houses.
“It is the most effective choice, allowing not only the restoration of the Palace as a safe, sustainable and efficient building, but also permitting the most economical route to a building housing a modern, open and accessible legislature.”
The MPs added that the best value for money would be achieved by “getting on with” the project.
It said a business case for a full decant needed to be made but urged the government to make a decision-in-principle to back recommendations.
The report also called for a Crossrail-style delivery model for the huge scheme, with a client securing funding before a delivery authority oversees work.
“The restoration and renewal programme can build on the examples of Crossrail and the 2012 Olympics: both government major projects delivered by a two-tier delivery model,” the report said.