Monday, 2 February 2015

Knowle relocation project: the Commons relocation project and not being fit for purpose

Tomorrow evening, BBC Two will take us inside the Commons as never before:

The illuminating portrait provides a no-holds-barred insight into the plotting, toadying and horse-trading that underpin British democracy. The crumbling Victorian palace is itself as much a star of the show as Cameron and Miliband – who both give frank interviews about pre-PMQs nerves – and in the run-up to a general election that no one can call, footage of peeling plasterwork and leaking roofs provides a fitting metaphor for the precarious position of the current political order.

Inside the Commons | Series 1 - Episode 1 | Radio Times

Inside the Commons: Trailer - BBC Two - YouTube
BBC Two - Inside the Commons

Of course, it depends on your political outlook, but veteran Labour MP Michael Meacher does not consider Parliament 'fit for purpose' - but then, he's referring to its competence as an insitution ... although in the comments to this posting, there are questions about how 'fit' the building is on several counts:
Is Parliament fit for purpose? - Michael Meacher MP

And this has been the point for some years now: that the building is 'not fit for purpose' 
... and so MPs might well have to relocate.

This report goes back to 2008 - when the repair bills were quite reasonable:

MPs could be moved out of Commons

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Commons is in need of a major refurbishment

MPs could be moved out of Parliament for up to three years while a major refit of the Commons takes place.

Urgent work costing about £350m needs to be carried out on the historic central London building. The Commons authorities have commissioned a £250,000 feasibility study into the options for relocating MPs while it is completed.

They could meet at a nearby conference centre - or even in the Lords chamber, which does not need a similar refit. Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey, spokesman for the Commons commission, said it was "pretty well inevitable" that MPs would have to move out during the repairs.

Essential repairs

The only question was whether it would be for a "few weeks in Westminster Hall or a couple of years or more in another place. Initially, I think MPs will be against it," said Mr Harvey, but he hoped they would change their minds when they had seen the feasibility study and the likely timescale.

The work was not likely to start until 2012, he added.

Essential repairs to the Palace of Westminster are usually carried out during the summer months when Parliament is in recess. But the scale of work which needs to be done is so great that it would take about 25 years to complete in this way.


More than 500 miles of water pipes, electrical cables and telephone wires need to be replaced in what would be the biggest programme of works since 1947, when the Commons was rebuilt after the Second World War. There were 33 leaks from hot water pipes in the past month and there is also a problem with asbestos, which needs to be removed.

A Commons spokeswoman said much of the infrastructure in the Commons had reached the end of its "economic life". "Work has to be done all the time but there comes a point when you have to do major replacement," she told BBC News. She said the IT infrastructure would also be upgraded and more modern, environmentally friendly generators would also be installed. She refused to speculate on where MPs would meet while the work was taking place.

But if it was decided to close the Commons chamber, she said they would move somewhere close to the House of Parliament, to enable them to carry on working as closely as possible to normal.

MPs briefly met in the House of Lords chamber during the Second World War but any move to repeat that might be resisted by peers. Another option might be to set up a temporary chamber in the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, at the other side of Parliament Square.

The Commons spokeswoman stressed that no decision would be taken until the feasibility study had been completed. The feasibility study is expected to report in the middle of next year.

BBC NEWS | Politics | MPs could be moved out of Commons

The commission looking into the options met in 2012 and made several proposals:

MPs alarmed at proposal to close Houses of Parliament for repairs

Commons could relocate for up to five years to allow £3bn refurbishment of Palace of Westminster

Andrew Sparrow, political correspondent Sunday 26 August 2012

The Commons commission said in a statement this year that all renovation options were being considered and that a final decision would not be taken for several years. "It is envisaged that [the options report] will take approximately a year, with any decisions on renovations not being made until the next parliament (2015-2020), with any work not commencing before 2020," it said.

MPs alarmed at proposal to close Houses of Parliament for repairs | Politics | The Guardian
BBC News - Repairing Parliament: MPs' three options (including a move)
Some MPs may never sit in the Commons if renovations go ahead, Tory warns - Telegraph

Clearly the building is in need of some open-planning - and all those corridors!

10 things you probably didn't know about Parliament

By Chris MasonPolitical correspondent, BBC News: 
29 January 2015


The Palace of Westminster - Parliament - was built on the site of William the Conqueror's first palace.

Rebuilt in Victorian times as a Gothic fantasy palace, it is an eight-acre jumble of buildings, courtyards, passageways and corridors.

There are 100 staircases, more than 1,000 rooms and three miles of passages.

BBC News - 10 things you probably didn't know about Parliament

This summer, the contractors Aecom, Deloitte and HOK will publish their recommendations for the restoration of the Houses of Parliament:
Bill for parliament restoration could hit £3bn | News | Architects Journal
Aecom and Deloitte to report on possible Parliament move | Online news | New Civil Engineer

See also:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: 'badly rundown' late nineteenth century building will mean 'partial relocation'
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the aesthetics of 1970s concrete office blocks
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the politics of maps ..... "What I have found most difficult to understand is why EDDC ever decided to base itself in Sidmouth where over 50 per cent of the area covered by a 20 mile diameter is in the English Channel."

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