House in Parliament? Activists want Westminster for social housing

Credit: Jay Morton
Britain’s Houses of Parliament should be converted into affordable flats to save taxpayer money and provide much needed accommodation, claims social housing campaign group Generation Rent.

With a prime Central London location, historic architecture and stunning river views, a flat in the Palace of Westminster could cost a fortune.

However, if Generation Rent succeed in their ambitious plan, a one bedroom apartment would be available for just £258 per week.

In a bid to save taxpayers’ money and boost the economy of the north of England, Parliament would be relocated to Hull, where rent is the cheapest in the country.

Architect Jay Morton has drawn up detailed plans of how the iconic building could be converted into desirable riverside flats.

Arguably, the highlight of her plan is the conversion of the grade I listed main debating chamber into a swimming pool and library.

Credit: Jay Morton

Morton’s vision for the Houses of Parliament has something for everyone. Families could move into three-bedroom maisonettes, located in the Palace’s lofty ceilings.

The new properties would be reasonable too, with a three-bedroom flat costing just £1,520 per month and a two-bed going for £1,297 per month.

Morton said: “This redevelopment would provide a unique opportunity to renovate the existing fabric of the building and provide much needed accommodation for those who live and work in the city, while re-injecting a community back into the heart of the borough.”

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While the ambitious project will be welcome to many low-income renters in the capital, the chances of it being realized are slim.

Generation Rent’s controversial plans aim to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing in Britain, and at the same time satirize the government’s austerity policies.

Relocating Parliament to Hull would save taxpayers millions of pounds in subsidies for MPs’ living costs.

Some 335 MPs rent second homes and claim expenses in London. This cost the public £5.21 million in 2013 alone, according to the campaign group.

Credit: Jay Morton

By moving MPs to the North Eastern city of Hull, taxpayers would save £120 million over five years.

Generation Rent have taken Chancellor George Osborne’s belief that “we are all in this together” at face value by suggesting elected representatives share the burden of increasing living costs and stagnant wages.

Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent, said: “Renters are being crushed by high rents, poor conditions and almost no security of tenure.”

With their generous rent allowances from the taxpayer, MPs are cocooned from the housing crisis so they're largely indifferent to the plight of renters.”

One way our politicians could bear their share of austerity is if we relocated Parliament to the least expensive part of the country. We hope our proposal gives MPs a sense of humility and some urgency to ending the housing crisis,” he added.