A new easy-to-use tool that maps government property and land is now available for the first time. For the first time ever, you can search the government’s property portfolio listing everything from ambulance stations to vacant airfields.
Launched today (20 August) by Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude, the Government Property Finder supports the government’s aims to increase transparency, save money and support regeneration and growth.
Under the Right to Contest announced earlier this year, people can challenge whether the land or property is being used effectively. If the government cannot justify its use, the land or property will be released and put to better use. Historic assets like Downing Street or the Treasury building won’t be sold off, but this online tool will mean that the many government properties across the country can be put to the best possible use.
Previously, members of the public only had the right to challenge the wider public sector where land or property was empty or underused. Under the Right to Contest scheme this right is extended to include central government land and property, both vacant and occupied.
Through the Right to Contest, you can complete a short form giving details of the site and your reasons for the government to release it. Cases are only rejected if government departments can demonstrate that the site is vital for operational purposes or that alternative considerations outweigh the potential for better economic use.
The government aims to sell property it no longer uses and get out of expensive rentals. The size of the public property estate has already decreased, with 1,250 buildings vacated since 2010. This has helped save £1.4 billion since the last general election, and the cost of running the estate has reduced by £647 million compared with a 2009 to 2010 baseline.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:
As part of our long-term plan for a stronger economy we are slashing our own costs and getting the most out the property we own. Since the 2010 general election we have got out of 1,250 properties, but we need to do more. We want the public to use this new map and the Right to Contest to challenge us to release properties we are not using efficiently enough to cut the deficit, support growth and provide more houses.