Steer are helping to resolve some difficult issues surrounding the challenges of providing safe and secure access suitable for the 21st century, to a collection of historic buildings in the heart of London.
London’s Palace of Westminster, more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, is one of its most famous landmarks and, with Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, forms part of the UNESCO Westminster World Heritage site. The oldest part of the Parliamentary Estate, Westminster Hall, was built in 1099 and is still in use today. The 1,100-room Palace dates from the mid-nineteenth century and is now undergoing a restoration and renewal Programme established to preserve the heritage of the Palace.
Over the last three years, Steer has been supporting BDP, the lead architect, on the programme. The programme is complex and currently expected to last until the mid-2030s, with Steer potentially supporting the entire programme of works. It has been determined that the best and most cost-effective way to carry out the restoration and renewal of the Palace in one single phase, is to move temporarily out of the building. Accordingly, a key step is the conversion of the Northern Estate to provide continued security and flexibility of accommodation for the government, including an operational chamber, committee rooms, and House support services.
Steer has a key role in developing enhanced access and circulation in combination with ensuring suitable security to all potential Members of Parliament and visitors. Amongst other workstreams, we have been advising on how to ensure the necessary public access, inherent in the desire for an open democracy, can be balanced against ever changing security risks, with the complications of disruptive technology and quickly evolving transport policies.
Our role has expanded as we have demonstrated our ability to address the challenges inherent in such a complex programme and we anticipate an extensive involvement in the evolving programme of works.
At present, some fifteen staff from our London Planning team are security cleared to work on the project. Our current workstreams include traffic modelling, highway engineering, urban realm design, pedestrian modelling and lift strategies, service and waste management strategies and the preparation of transport and environmental impact assessments.