Today the Daily Mail produced drawings of what they have wittily dubbed ‘The Westminster Bubble’ : below is my story, posted by Property Week this morning.
Property Week 10th April
Active reconsideration is being given to Lord Foster’s ‘Pop-Up Parliament’ on Horse Guards Parade amid fears that stalled plans to move MP’s into the Grade II listed HQ of the Ministry of Health on Whitehall will add two years and £350m in costs to the £4bn restoration and renewal programme for the Palace of Westminster.
Late last month a full-dress presentation of updated plans backed by Sir John Ritblat and costed at £175m were shown to the Shadow Sponsor Board set up in July 2018, led by ex-British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace. The idea of building twin glass domes on the 9-acre parade ground was turned down by MP’s in the summer of 2017.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said at the time: “Any proposal put forward by someone as respected as John Ritblat is worthy of consideration and, if the security objections are surmountable, it may be worth revisiting.” The plans now include for the closure of Horse Guards Road to all but parliamentary traffic, putting the ‘Pop-Up Parliament’ inside the “ring of steel’
Layouts have been refined. Two floors of offices set on a concrete raft laid on the surface of the parade ground will accommodate both MP’s and Peers. The bomb-proof, double-domed prefabricated structure containing both chambers rises above.
The Ministry of Defence is refusing to agree to the use of an MoD car park to enable works to turn the Dept of Health’s Richmond House into a Commons chamber by 2026. Marcus Binney of preservationist group SAVE said last autumn ‘the demolition of the major part of Richmond House would be state-sponsored vandalism of the first order.”
The Richmond House scheme is government controlled, not part of the Shadow Sponsor Board’s responsibilities. MP’s and Peers on the Restoration Bill committee called last month for the ‘swift transfer’ of responsibilities to the Peace committee in a scathing report that warned of a 2-year delay in decanting until 2028 and £350m of extra costs.
Binney is backing a plan by Sir Michael Hopkins to turn the courtyard of Portcullis House into a Commons chamber. The House of Lords is slated to move to the QE11 Centre. Lord Foster’s designs accommodate both houses, can be put up for a fixed price by the backers.