Lonely Planet Writer

London's Houses of Parliament could close for six years for refurbishment works

It will take £4bn and six years to carry out a radical refit of the crumbling Houses of Parliament in London. MPs and peers should relocate elsewhere while the work is being carried out, a joint committee has recommended.

London's Houses of Parliament facing refit.
London’s Houses of Parliament facing refit. Image by Shutterstock

The restoration and renewal group, comprising of members of both houses, was set up last year to probe into how the substantial overhaul could take place. The Guardian reports that this work includes updating some of the Victorian facilities in the building like rewiring. The committee includes a former Leader of the House, current Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Baroness Smith, who is the Labour leader in the Lords.  It has taken evidence from a wide-ranging number of witnesses, from architects to conservation experts as well as members themselves. Previously specialists, including consultants Deloitte, said the MPs and peers would have to vacate the House while the protracted work was being done. This is a verdict with which the present committee is expected to concur.

Prime Minister Theresa May is yet to decide on whether to support such recommendations, according to Downing Street sources. However, she is known to understand how important the restoration of the Unesco World Heritage Site is to the country. Last year, an independent review body suggested that moving to alternative facilities would cost less and be much more pragmatic than trying to do the restoration work while members remained. It was estimated that under such an arrangement, it could take over 30 years to complete. It was also pointed out that by vacating the Houses, the cost would come in at around £3.9bn, substantially less than the £6bn if builders had to schedule their work around the parliamentarians. In the event of moving, the Department of Health’s Richmond House is understood to be the site of the temporary home.