Press release

Government shrinks number of central London government office spaces by 20%

The government has exited 36 property holdings in central London alone since May 2010.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

2 November 2011

CAB 220 - 11

The government has exited 36 property holdings in central London alone since May 2010, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude confirmed today, on the same day as the Public Property Summit takes place in London. 

The government is one of the country’s largest landowners and the largest tenant, currently occupying 135 holdings in Central London alone. However, much of the estate has been used inefficiently and is now outdated for a modern office space. In central London space utilisation is currently at an average of 14.2m2 per full-time equivalent employee, compared to 10.72 on average in the private sector.

Making better use of the government estate has been a key aim for the Cabinet Office in order to eliminate waste and make savings for the taxpayer. From May 2010 to March 2011, £90 million has been saved by better management of central government property - exiting unneeded leases and imposing tighter controls. The area vacated in Central London is 112, 000 square metres - the equivalent to15 Wembley stadiums.

The government is also examining other buildings that are no longer fit for efficient use by civil servants, such as Admiralty Arch in Trafalgar Square, which was not designed as a modern day office and could not be altered for such a purpose without considerable cost to taxpayers. The government will look for bids for a leasehold to re-use the building, ensuring that the heritage of the building is maintained and look at options to increase public access to the landmark - something which is not possible at present.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: 

We will leave no stone unturned in the drive to make the Civil Service more efficient and cut costs for the taxpayer.

Effective property management is not just about slimming down - it is also about using what we have more effectively, imaginatively and more in keeping with a modern society.

Admiralty Arch is not fit for a modern day office and could not be adapted without disproportionate costs to the taxpayer. Let’s not forget that it’s not at all accessible to the public at present, so we are looking for ways to preserve this beautiful building, celebrate its history and heritage, create opportunities for public access and generate value for the taxpayer.

Notes to editors

  1. Each property holding is an office space. In the vast majority of cases this refers to an entire building, however in some cases it may refer to a part of building, such as a floor.
Published 2 November 2011