Public Sector Property

31.03.16

EXCLUSIVE: Public land disposal scheme leads to just 6 sales

A scheme to reduce government estate by allowing members of the public to request surplus government-owned land to be put up for sale has led to just six sales since it was introduced in January 2014, FoI requests by PSE show.

The Right to Contest is a scheme which allows businesses, local authorities and members of the public to challenge the government about land they own which is potentially surplus or redundant or could be put to better economic use.

The Cabinet Office has received 19 Strand One Right to Contest applications, which apply to central government-owned land, of which five have led to land being declared wholly or partially surplus.

Strand Two applications, made to the Department of Communities and Local Government for local land and property, have resulted in just one successful ‘direction to dispose’ out of 70 applications, for land north east of Knight’s Lane, Tiddington, under the Stratford-on-Avon local authority.

Of the other cases, 35 had direct disposal refused, 17 were decided ‘other’ for reasons such as the land being privately owned, the case being transferred to the Cabinet Office and the case being put on review for 3-6 months. Thirteen cases are still live and four were withdrawn.

Among the Strand One applications, the remaining 14 sites were deemed essential to operations or the application was declared out of scope. These include an apparent joke application for ‘the whole of the UK’ to be deemed surplus.

The five national government sites that were declared surplus are part of Dulwich Hospital, Kenmore Clinic in Harrow, land at Canada Docks in Liverpool and Ministry of Justice properties at Peace Mills Site in Nottingham and Kirklevington Grange Prison in Cleveland.

At the launch of the State of the Estate in 2014-15 report, Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock said that the government had set a target of reducing its offices by 75% in order to cut the government deficit before 2023 and urged members of the public to get involved using the scheme.

A government spokesman said: “The Housing and Planning Bill aims to increase the transparency and accountability of local authority land holdings, making it easier for the public to identify surplus land.”

Tony Armstrong, chief executive of community organisations network Locality, wrote for the most recent edition of PSE about the Housing and Planning Bill.

(Image c. Clive Gee from PA Images.)

Comments

Craig Harrison   02/06/2016 at 12:55

I completed a "right to contest" application for surplus land on the HMP Kirklevington Grange site and got fobbed off with some story about only selling the entire plot as opposed to manageable packages, apparently the whole plot was being put on the market early in 2016.....we're now almost halfway through the year and nothing

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