POLITICS
08/05/2019 13:01 BST | Updated 08/05/2019 16:27 BST

First Designs For New Temporary House Of Commons Chamber Revealed

MPs will move in during the mid-2020s so the Palace of Westminster can be restored.

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

The first designs for a new temporary House of Commons Chamber have been revealed.

MPs are set to decant from the Palace of Westminster for at least five years in the mid-2020s, at a cost of at least £4bn, to allow essential restoration and renewal work to take place.

The familiar green benches, Speaker’s chair, and despatch boxes will all be in place.

But the new space is decidedly more modern than the rapidly decaying 200 year-old Palace, which is often compared to Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series.

©Forbes Massie Studio

The temporary chamber will be housed in a redeveloped Richmond House –the Whitehall building vacated by the Department of Health in early 2018.

The new space will feature new public and press galleries, public spaces for visitors and education and participation spaces.

It will also feature a new “triple-height” central lobby, which looks a far cry from the grand central chamber where the likes of BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg broadcast from nearly every day, and is one of many spaces designed to improve accessibility.

©Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
New central lobby

The restoration and renewal programme will see MPs move just a few hundred yards from the south side of Westminster bridge to the new temporary chamber on the north.

Many MPs will be able to keep their offices which are in newer buildings on that side.

HuffPost UK

While some voters may baulk at the cost of the entire programme, senior parliamentary managers insist the work needs to take place because the old Palace is deteriorating more quickly than it can be repaired and is at risk of a catastrophic Notre Dame-style fire.

There have been 66 small fire incidents in the building since 2008 and it is patrolled 24/7 to comply with fire safety laws.

Much of the mechanical and engineering work will be focused on the basement, where a mess of wires criss-cross with steam pipes, and some electricity boards are submerged below the water level.

© House of Lords 2016 / Roger Harris
© UK Parliament

MPs will begin debating and voting on the necessary legislation to kickstart the project within days.