Businesses in the West Midlands are already benefiting from the programme to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster.
Redditch-based IT services business Version 1 has won a contract worth £3.65 million in year one to deliver IT services that will help the restoration programme to reduce their civil engineering costs, speed up delivery and improve management of risk, through new and enhanced project planning software and systems. The firm partnered with Littlefish, a managed IT services firm based in Nottingham for their IT support services.
In November 2021 the team leading plans to restore and renew the Houses of Parliament visited the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Architecture and Built Environment to meet business leaders and university students to hear more about the plans and the skills needed for the Houses of Parliament restoration. Last week the team held a similar event at Nottingham Trent University where local businesses and suppliers discussed how the complex work can also support jobs and opportunities across the wider region.
Small to medium sized businesses are already benefitting from the work to restore the Palace of Westminster. Last year, seven contracts worth £4m for Palace of Westminster building investigations were awarded to suppliers across the country with five out of seven contract winners being classed as a small or medium enterprise (SME). There are already dozens of companies involved in the restoration effort.
Andy Haynes, Commercial Director at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said:
“The Houses of Parliament represents all peoples and regions of the country, and likewise, its important that the benefits of the works are shared throughout the UK, including in the West Midlands.
“Effective digital services are at the core of modern programme work and I’m delighted to see Version 1 join us in this national effort to save the home of UK democracy for future generations. In particular I would like to call out their focus on training and apprenticeships which aligns them strongly with our own approach”
The Version 1 Programme will deliver environmental, social, and economic benefits across the West Midlands and the wider United Kingdom. Version 1’s commitments to Net Zero by 2025, supporting Apprentices and Digital Upskilling underpins a partnership focused on Value for Money while enabling the protection of the UK’s seat of democracy.
Conor McColgan, UK Sales Director at Version 1, said:
“We are delighted to have been named as the strategic Digital Services Partner for the Restoration and Renewal Programme for the next 4 years. This builds upon a relationship stretching back to 2018, and brings the full breadth of the Version 1 Portfolio (Digital, Data, Cloud, ERP) together under our ASPIRE Managed Service Offering to deliver Value for Money to R&R.
“We look forward to delivering services alongside our partner Littlefish and continuing to support R&R on the Data & Digital enablers in the delivery of this unique and exciting programme.”
Both Houses of Parliament are committed to preserving the Palace for future generations.
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. Hundreds of miles of pipes and cables need replacing. The scale of the challenge means more extensive restoration and renewal is needed as part of the overall plan for the Parliamentary buildings. Currently there are dozens of major projects underway to repair and restore key parliamentary buildings by parliamentary teams with which the Restoration and Renewal programme will work closely to learn from and build the lessons into the overall restoration plans for the Palace.
In July 2022 Members of both Houses agreed there needs to be a more aligned and integrated approach to future restoration, prioritising safety critical work before the formal go-ahead and options for the overall restoration are confirmed.
In November 2022, news of the possible discovery of the medieval Thames River wall underneath the Houses of Parliament was revealed by the extensive programme of building investigations by restoration teams last year. Specialists spent 4850 hours examining 160 rooms and drilling boreholes up to 70 metres deep to assess ground conditions around the Palace of Westminster. The surveys are helping restoration teams develop the most detailed ever record of the Palace of Westminster to inform decisions about essential restoration work.
These surveys will inform a set of options, being developed by the Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, for how significant elements of the restoration work will be delivered and the level of ambition for restoration work. This will include variations on the time and extent to which Members and staff are asked to move out of the Palace to allow complex construction work to take place.
The volume and future scope of the main restoration works are not yet certain until approval is given by Members of both Houses to costed proposals, in advance of this Members will be asked to vote on a strategic case by the end of 2023.