Councils adopt ‘property developer role’, survey finds

17 Sep 14
Councils across England will redevelop £13.5bn worth of land and assets over the next five years as part of local plans to turn underused land into a source of revenue, an examination by Localis has found.

By Richard Johnstone | 17 September 2014

Councils across England will redevelop £13.5bn worth of land and assets over the next five years as part of local plans to turn underused land into a source of revenue, an examination by Localis has found.

A survey of local authorities by the think-tank found many were reacting to ongoing austerity by acting more like property developers.

Instead of deciding to sell buildings and land for one-off capital receipts, authorities were looking to redevelop assets to derive revenue income from them that they can use to help support public services.

To help further develop this process, today’s Public Land, Public Good report called for councils to come together to establish a ‘hit squad’ of highly experienced council officers who could provide advice on maximising returns on council assets. The report suggested that if they could deliver a 5% increase on the £13.5bn assets, this would produce almost £700m of extra revenue.

In addition, all departments and agencies across central and local government should be required to produce an annual register of assets to increase the supply of land, while the One Public Estate programme should be expanded to give councils a co-ordinating role for public service land.

Launching the report, Localis chief executive Alex Thomson said it was vital to get maximum benefit from underused public assets.

‘Our research concludes that local government is ideally placed to catalyse the development of public sector land and assets in their area,’ he added.

 

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