Restoration work on the 900-year-old Palace of Westminster could cost up to £22bn and Liverpool city region firms are looking to bid for contracts. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool city region businesses have met with the team delivering the restoration of the Palace of Westminster with a view to winning contracts on the project.
More than 900 years old, the Palace of Westminster is in need of serious restoration. Maintenance and repairs cost the taxpayer millions of pounds each year. Estimations for the full restoration of the estate range between £7bn and £22bn.
A full programme of works for the site, which houses the House of Commons and the House of Lords, will involve a myriad of contractors large and small from across the UK.
Small to medium sized businesses are already benefiting from the mammoth project. In 2022 seven contracts worth £4m for Palace of Westminster building investigations were awarded to suppliers across the country.
Five out of seven contract winners were classed as SMEs. There are already dozens of companies involved in the restoration effort and supporting jobs and apprenticeships.
In the last few days a group of 18 leading businesses from Liverpool city region, and the wider North West, have met with the team at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme in a consultation event at the Museum of Liverpool.
Leading local experts in everything from manufacturing to software, construction and engineering were in attendance. They heard about the approach to getting local businesses involved in the major project to restore the Palace of Westminster.
Overall, North West England is currently the leading UK region in terms of investment from Parliament restoration work.
Andy Haynes, commercial director at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said: “Liverpool has the largest concentration of historic buildings outside London.
So it was brilliant to discuss with local business leaders how they could support the restoration of the Palace of Westminster in the future.
“Parliament represents all peoples and regions of the country. It’s really important that we make the most of skills here in Liverpool and the wider North West as they have a huge wealth of skills and enthusiasm.”
The Westminster team also viewed the Virtual Engineering Centre, at the University of Liverpool to see how new digital engineering technology and skills could be used in the complex restoration work.
The Palace is enormous and complex – the size of 16 football pitches, with the whole building sharing the same water, electric, sewage and gas system. Many of these services are 50+ years old and have reached the end of their lifespan.
In November 2022, news of the possible discovery of the medieval Thames River wall underneath the Houses of Parliament was revealed by the programme of building investigations.
Specialists spent 4,850 hours examining 160 rooms and drilling boreholes up to 70 metres deep to assess ground conditions around the Palace of Westminster.
Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, said: “We have an abundance of talent in the Liverpool city region across all manner of sectors. It is important that those businesses have a genuine opportunity to get involved.
“While the restoration of the Houses of Parliament is still in the early stages, this initial consultation event gave attendees a real insight into the scale of the programme of work and how they can potentially play their part in this national endeavour.”