UK campaign group proposes to transform Houses of Parliament into affordable housing units
Westminster is one of the most expensive boroughs of London for buying or renting property
Parliament could require restoration work totaling $4.6 billion
It’s the home of British politics, steeped in history, tradition and centuries-old pomp.
But could the ornate splendor of the UK’s Houses of Parliament be about to offer a solution to London’s housing crisis?
In all honesty, probably not.
However, that hasn’t stopped housing campaign group, Generation Rent, from proposing to transform the Palace of Westminster into affordable new homes.
The group’s eye-catching idea is to move the seat of British democracy from one of London’s most exclusive neighborhoods to a new location in the city of Hull, northern England.
The vacant House of Commons and House of Lords (the UK’s upper legislative chamber) left behind would be converted into 364 flats of varying size and scale with prime office space facing the River Thames.
According to a press release on the proposal from Generation Rent, 335 MPs from all over the UK currently rent second homes so they can carry out their parliamentary duties more effectively.
They claim expenses for doing so cost the taxpayer £5.26 million ($8 million) in 2013 alone.
By moving the seat of government to Hull, a city with the cheapest housing rent in England, millions could be saved in expenses as well as staffing costs, the group claims.
Westminster is one of the most expensive boroughs for property in London, according to research from house moving firm, Delivery Quote Compare.
The ever-rising cost of property in the UK capital, meanwhile, is making it increasingly difficult for many to buy or rent in central areas of the city.
A January report from rental referencing company, Homelet, also found that average rental prices in Greater London were more than double that of those found in the rest of the UK
“We hope our proposal gives MPs a sense of humility and some urgency to ending the housing crisis,” said director of Generation Rent, Alex Hilton.
Yet even if the Generation Rent proposals were seriously considered, they could come unstuck by the dilapidated state of the parliament building itself.
Speaker of the House, John Bercow, said Monday that repairs needed to bring the nineteenth century structure up to scratch could come close to £3 billion ($4.6 billion).
A 2012 study entitled “The Restorations and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster” found that the building could suffer permanent damage if work was not undertaken to stem leaks, repair crumbling stonework and remove asbestos.