Jon Masters 23 July 2015

Councils encouraged to join property productivity drive

The One Public Estate (OPE) programme is entering a further phase, with more local councils expected to be asked to release surplus public land and property as part of the Government’s Productivity Plan.

There are currently 32 councils signed up to the Cabinet Office and LGA led OPE programme, which is also encouraging authorities to share buildings and services to reduce running costs.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), these authorities expect to deliver an additional 9,000 homes, generate 20,000 jobs and raise £129m in capital receipts from land sales while cutting running costs by £77m over five years.

Cabinet Office minister, Matthew Hancock, said: 'Over the last five years the Government's property reforms have raised £1.4bn for taxpayers and in the years ahead we will go further and faster. 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.'

Successes claimed to date include City of York Council entering a partnership with Network Rail to jointly release city centre land for the development of 1100 new homes and 80,000 square metres of central business district.

LGA chairman Gary Porter, said: 'Councils have shown that they are perfectly placed to deliver effective cross public sector asset management. It is great to see in practice how through the OPE programme we are seeing the integration of services, local economic growth, and support for more sustainable local government.

'It's clear this isn't easy work and the investment of time, energy and patience, as well as funds, needs to go hand in hand with strong leadership. But what the OPE programme has shown us is that the hard work is worth it.'

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