27 June 2013
Paul Disley-Tindell, director corporate real estate at Telereal Trillium, comments on the One Public Estate pilot scheme announced this week by Chloe Smith, Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office.
The new pilot property scheme, One Public Estate, shows that central government is recognising the significant scope for efficiencies in the public sector’s property portfolio. By encouraging central government and other public sector bodies to share accommodation within a locality, far greater savings will be generated than if organisations continued to act independently. The more effective use of the estate will enable buildings to be released for alternative uses or redevelopment, with potential benefits for both regeneration and economic growth.
Some public bodies, such as Hampshire and Staffordshire County Councils, have already achieved savings through collaboration with local partners, but having the approach championed by Ministers, the Government Property Unit and the Local Government Association should ensure a wider take up and help break down the barriers that may have limited such efficiencies in the past.
The One Public Estate scheme implements a number of the recommendations in the Leaner and Greener II: Putting Buildings to Work report. Issued by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, following an inquiry chaired by Matthew Hancock MP, the report considered a wide range of opportunities to reduce the costs and carbon emissions of the public sector estate.
The sharing of public sector accommodation is, however, only one of the ways that savings can be made. Each organisation needs to have a robust strategic asset management plan, detailing its current and anticipated future property requirements and identifying the changes required to its existing portfolio for those requirements to be met in the most cost effective way. Whilst some of these initiatives may require upfront investment, this can potentially be financed by a private sector partner with the costs then being recovered through the subsequent sale of surplus assets or the on-going running cost savings achieved.