Government-owned Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London is being lined up as a possible venue to rehouse the House of Lords, as parliament faces up to the need for a major restoration plan that could take up to six years to complete.
A blueprint for £3.9bn of work on the historic listed buildings in the Palace of Westminster has been recommended by a parliamentary committee, although both houses will have to vote to endorse any course of action.
“The Palace of Westminster, a masterpiece of Victorian and medieval architecture and engineering, faces an impending crisis which we cannot responsibly ignore,” the report said.
Lord Lisvane said: “The roofs are leaking. The stonework is rotting. We need to do a great deal more in fire compartmentation.”
A threat to the UNESCO world heritage site is posed by flooding, with the Victorian drainage system now inadequate and asbestos another problem to be dealt with.
Refurbishment plans drawn up by Deloitte included a version that would allow MPs to remain in the Palace of Westminster while work took place over 32 years. MPs have rejected that plan, which could have cost over £7bn.
The report also recommended that MPs move to Richmond House, the Department of Health building on Whitehall.
There is concern that if the QEII Centre is used exclusively for the Lords, then central London would lose its major purpose-built conference venue. The centre currently contributes £122m annually to the UK economy.
QEII Centre chief executive Mark Taylor told CN: ”Questions relating to the renovation of the Palace of Westminster are a matter for Parliament. We understand a number of options are being considered, but no decisions have been made yet.
“Furthermore, any relocation of Parliament that could take place potentially would not happen until late 2019 / early 2020 at the very earliest. As such, the Queen Elizabeth II Centre remains fully open for business.”