The Palace of Westminster, knock it down or do it up?


(Peter Bird) #1

The Houses of Parliament are big trouble. Serious work needs to be done to stop the whole thing falling down. The options are quite simple.


The whole place is renovated costing billions or,


A new purpose-built Assembly is constructed somewhere in England.


May I suggest a new pad be constructed somewhere near Leicester which is roughly the centre of England geographically.



(Billy Gibson) #2

Agree about leaving the HP and also leaving London. Saving number (1) that would allow a pay cut for all MP's along the lines of reduced benefits and Civil Service wages outside of London. Saving number (2) no 2nd houses; due to the new proposed location MP's won't want to live there so they can use a hotel like mere mortals do. Saving number (3) Cheaper building and maintenance costs than present HP. New Location; well it's a no brainer for me; it would create a new "Northern Powerhouse" ..... Middlesbrough. The lesson the MP's would learn is that getting out of the London Bubble and into the real world of ... to quote a Conservative MP "there is no shame in having a low paid job" they can find out how life really is for the majority of people.


(David Rosemont) #3

This is typical. Often the local authority ends up encouraging a chain which then imposes their style on the building as well as their menu provided from a far distant factory run by accountants. The LA runs token training schemes to get the targets met. Planning officers hardly ever know their local building traditions well. Many have personal planning agendas.


(Brian Milne) #4

Sounds just like my friend's pub in Suffolk. He wanted a modern restaurant, especially a proper kitchen, in an old coach inn. It is on the edge of a protected monument (which is an aristo owned estate and house that nobody can get near as it is but also has a couple of barrows and a Saxon something on it). The inspections of everything he wanted installed that could be seen through windows had his brother's hair on end. The brother was namely a planning officer in Bury St Edmunds where the regime is tight enough because of the city, but the things thrown at the professional restaurateur who had had several places before the pub and was therefore used to regulations were extreme. In the end he bought another pub, put the other on the market but it was bought by somebody who just wanted it as a house. So after several hundred years another ancient inn bit the dust. As the planner brother said, over the centuries the place would have been modernised hundreds of times, even up to the dart oche being put down in the 'public bar' and such modern things as electric lights, now improvements were not being allowed because 'in the past' things were such and such but when did that begin and end?


(David Rosemont) #5

In fact many of these luxury hotel projects founder. What happens is some so called rich guy "buys" it. This means he puts up about 10% and then has to rush around looking for more capital Say 30% cash in total. The money often comes from dodgy sources (you know the usual places) and then the front man has to obtain bank funding on top. It helps if you have pushy banks trying to make a world name like the well known banks that got into trouble (no names no pack drill you know what I mean). The managers of such banks are driven by commission so they have to do deals to get most of their income and very often their common sense goes out of the window. Having raised enough money to actually buy it you need then to find a hotel chain to run it, because they don't want to put up the capital. They might eventually sign an option for a say 25 year lease and armed with that the developer has to obtain further finance to get planning and do the construction. He will probably seek to get the architect to make the planning application on a no planning permission no fee payment deal. Thus the developer ( aworthless single project offshore company) might start building having put only 10% into the deal on a series of promises with dodgy people and companies. The hotel will never make any money if the cost is too high because there is so much competion around and bankruptcies are all too frequent, taking with them a whole string of small companies and individuals. In my opinion never on this site. I was active in the luxury hotel and tourism industry and know the pitfalls. I have some hair raising stories involving billion pound plus bankruptcies, prison sentences and the serious crime people. One of the hotels I did do was voted No 1 in London, did involve two listed buildings, some offshore investors (two lots who both went bust), a "torching" of the building and the Prince Of Wales (he was not involved in the conflagration!), but it did get built. The room rate is between 600 and 800 euros a night, and more if you want breakfast. And it won't be easy to get planning permission as every "expert" going will be getting in on the act and the local authority will be holding out for generous social contributions. The local authority officers and others will be out to justify their enormous salaries and pensions (see press today). EEEEHH it's grand to be retired!


(Brian Milne) #6

Then again, for those poor souls who know the place, I lived fairly close to Haverhill a once pleasant medieval town used to test out new towns for the rest of Essex... The people who won the biggest ever Euromillions jackpot, 182 million quid, said they had no intention of living anywhere else. Well, there's no accounting for taste (or lack of)!


(Hugh Tavenner) #7

Just imagine the increased expenses MPs would be claiming for!


(David Rosemont) #8

Brian there are just so many listed buildings, locally listed buildings, conservation areas, sites of special scientific interest, listed gardens, protected views etc in the UK that it's a wonder than anything at all happens. Add in the mix the NIMBYS, local amenity societies, over my dead body merchants, not to mention greens and ecologists and the maze of actually achieving anything makes it much more costly to do so. The process was meant to be improved. Has it been? The planning process gave us Runcorn, Cumbernauld, Crawley. Before planning we had cathedral cities, organic development, local materials and traditions, and design was not by committees.


(Theo Fruendt) #9

Its a good idea to let Donald take over the old facilities and because he pays with a credit from Gelen, so enough money for a suitable pot in Leicester should be not too difficult to be found there. With a bit luck may be enough cash is left to build a gambling casino next to the parliament ;-). As a project manager a person like Toni B. will be perfect!


(Peter Bird) #10

Not all of 'em Brian...spare Dame Harriet Harman, she's gorgeous. And if Theresa May could be tempted to make up the ménage à trois.......


(Peter Bird) #11

Runnymede sounds good. Maybe if the opening could be arranged for 2066 (and all that) then we could all be treated to street parties and a day off work ?


(Peter Bird) #12

At least the likes of Henry Bessemer were happy bunnies !

Your theory about magnetically attracted aliens may not be far off the mark. I'm sure Nigel Farage and Jez Corbyn are from planet 'Clanger' !


(Brian Milne) #13

Dartmoor, hmm. Good old Victorian nick there. They could use that. Just lock the bar stewards in, throw away the keys and nobody will notice much difference probably.


(David Rosemont) #14

Don't tell them Chinese about all dat iron! They'll nick it, innit? Then they can stick back a bit of cost engineered plastic lookalike good for 20 years max. Anyway the way global warming is going low lying London will be under water soon so best relocate somewhere a bit higher like Dartmoor, or Buxton. Malvern's quite nice and central too. Elgar would have approved as well.


(neil whitehead) #15

Move Parliament to Runnymede or a trading estate in Slough and sell the building to a consortium for a 6 star hotel. The Americans and Chinese would love it! (Keep the two main chambers for State occasions and tourism.)

Other nationalities are available.


(Brian Milne) #16

Iron, obvious innit! They wanted to magnetically attract aliens to the centre of London. In those days there were far too many English but nobody else had any money, so they wanted investors from another planet. If they could afford to get there then they would have done what the Chinese and Russians are doing for London with a bit of Polish labour nowadays.


(Peter Bird) #17

Ahh yes of course !

At least the heating bills are low thanks to the self-generated hot air !


(David Rosemont) #18

No it was "les ronfleurs"!


(Peter Bird) #19

Fascinating but now I know what that noise was when passing by the HP - it was those poor walls creaking under the strain !


(David Rosemont) #20

Thanks Peter but the mind does stray too! This link give close up details http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building/restoration-project/restoration-images/roof/ On the face of it the choice of the material was suspect but then we are talking about 160 or so years ago and materials technology was in its infancy. Korten (specially treated stee) cladding may be a possibility or zinc. There is a clear prefernce to ensure that Grade I listed buildings are repaired in exact conformity with the original designand materials. Therefore usually no non original materials will be allowed.