The report outlining options for the multi-billion pound renovation of the Houses of Parliament is flawed and delays to the project are inevitable, a top Conservative surveyor has said.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Tory MP for The Cotswolds and an associate of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, told The Independent on Sunday that the report’s 2020 target date for the start of construction is unachievable. He believes that delays in another project, the £400m refurbishment of three listed Parliamentary buildings neighbouring the Palace of Westminster, will make that date logistically impossible.
Mr Clifton-Brown is also concerned that the report makes no reference to the foundations because it was not part of the report team’s brief.
“All the invasive surveys, including the foundations, need to be completed now,” said Mr Clifton-Brown. “At least then all the current shortcomings in the palace will be quantified, which should enable a more accurate specification to be drawn up.”
The report, compiled by Deloitte Real Estate, Aecom and HOK, says that all its analysis, which span 250 pages in the first volume alone, will need “rebasing” if work does not start by the second quarter of 2020. However, a restoration-programme spokeswoman revealed that 2020 is not considered a definitive start date.
Alex Bell, a partner at Deloitte Real Estate, conceded that “further due diligence will be required on the palace”.
The buildings, which are riddled with asbestos, moths and rodents, could be refurbished in three ways. One would involve work taking place around MPs and peers, which could take 32 years and cost £7.1bn. A partial decampment of one set of politicians at a time or for all of them to move out over six years are the other options.
A joint committee of MPs and peers must decide on how to proceed by next year. However, an engineer said the report had been written as if the team had been told “full decampment was the chosen option – now justify it”.
Mr Bell said: “We have not expressed any opinion as to what [option] might be best or preferable.”