Parliament has begun the search for a contractor to refurbish the historic 160-year-old Victoria Tower within the Houses of Parliament.
Potential suppliers have been invited to an industry event by the House of Lords on 24 March to provide an overview of the project, which will involve fully scaffolding the tower to undertake repairs to the stonework as well as “complete conservation works to the window glazing, cast iron roof, rainwater drainage system and flagpole”.
The Victoria Tower is the tallest tower within the Palace of Westminster and was originally built as a repository for the records of Parliament.
Significant repairs to the tower were last undertaken in the early 1990s. However, the tower’s exterior masonry is deteriorating and, according to the House of Lords, represents a health and safety risk. The release inviting contractors to the event stated that the “root cause of this is exposure every year to the freeze-thaw cycle. Storm conditions, which are occurring more frequently, continue to weaken the structure further”.
A budget for the work has not been published, but the cost of restoring the neighbouring Elizabeth Tower, which houses the famous Big Ben clock and was undertaken by Sir Robert McAlpine, cost around £89m, more than double the original £29m that was budgeted.
The Victoria Tower restoration work is being undertaken separately to the wider restoration of the Houses of Parliament. According to the House of Lords, it was investigated whether the works could wait until the wider restoration was underway, but it was concluded that “delivering this work now would be the best option”.
The Victoria Tower project-procurement strategy envisages the appointment of a single contractor to undertake the works and services to deliver the project.
Interested parties have until 22 March to register for the event.