July 24, 2015
We’ve reported previously on the Government’s One Public Sector Estate scheme, which encourages local authorities to find ways to share office space and find other ways of divesting buildings as well as freeing up land for development. Over the past two years there has been a phased rollout of the scheme to 32 councils. Now the Cabinet Office and the Local Government Association claim they have gauged the success of the first two phases and are confident the scheme can be expanded nationwide. Their announcement suggests that the 32 councils who are currently on the programme own 28 percent of council land and property assets in England and have applied the ideas of the One Public Sector Estate Initiative to free up land for around 9,000 homes and create some 20,000 new jobs. The councils involved are also expected to raise £129 million in capital receipts from land sales and cut running costs by £77 million over 5 years.
Yesterday it was confirmed that the Government will allocate an additional £6m to expand the programme nationwide. All local authorities are now being invited to submit proposals to qualify for funding.
Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock highlighted that the scheme had contributed to the £1.4bn raised from asset sales and lower running costs in the last parliament. “By freeing up land and encouraging growth we are helping local communities to spring to life and find a new use for old government land,” he added.
Examples in the scheme to date include City of York Council entering a partnership with Network Rail to jointly release land previously owned by the council for the development of 1,100 new homes and 80,000 sq m of commercial property. In another, Leeds City Council has worked in partnership with Leeds Community Health to develop a plan to use council land and property as part of the delivery of integrated health and social care services. The expansion aims to work with large groupings of local authorities, such as existing or emerging combined authority areas or other clusters, to develop rationalisation plans.