Crichel Down Rules on land ownership

Rules that apply to the sale of sites previously acquired by government departments and in defence.

The Crichel Down Rules require government departments, under certain circumstances, to offer back surplus land to the former owner or the former owner’s successors at the current market value.

The Ministry of Defence’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is obliged to consider the potential application of the Crichel Down Rules to all of its surplus sites.

If the rules apply and no exceptions from the rules are applicable to a site then DIO will offer that site (or the relevant parts of it) back to former owners, or their successors, ahead of any offer to the open market, in accordance with the rules.

DIO is currently in the process of reviewing the application of the rules to some sites and will be obliged to complete that process in full for that site before any offers from the open market can be considered.

The publication of a site on the Disposal database: House of Commons report is not intended to indicate nor serve as any conclusion or view as to the application of the rules to a site.

The Crichel Down Rules were published by DCLG on 29 October 2015.

Advertised properties

Most major disposals appear online, please read the House of Commons Report or more detailed information can be obtained from the regional office. We do not produce a publication of all UK sites for sale.

How the DIO sells the MOD surplus land and property

As a government department, DIO works within Treasury guidelines when selling property assets. It is usual policy to sell surplus property on the open market by tender or by auction. DIO may instruct agents to act on its behalf when selling land and property but DIO also sells sites direct.

Sites suitable for redevelopment are generally sold with the benefit of planning permission and/or with clawback/overage provisions in order to optimise receipts for the benefit of the taxpayer. In the case of major development sites DIO will often sell the land in phases through a land sales delivery partner.

Due to the high interest in surplus property DIO does not provide UK wide or regional lists of properties for sale.

For more detailed information on specific surplus properties please contact the appropriate DIO regional office with your request.

The MOD is under an obligation to dispose of property at market value unless there are very exceptional circumstances.

Sale of individual buildings

DIO rarely sells bunkers (sometimes known as uniters). Occasionally the Home Office has such facilities for sale.

Surplus portable buildings are sold by an agency of the MOD - the Disposal Services Authority (DSA).

If you have seen an empty MOD property and would like advice about its availability, please contact the appropriate DIO regional office with details of the property, including its address, description and grid reference if possible. A DIO representative will then investigate if it is MOD property and if applicable check its availability and advise on the method of sale.

Sale of MOD estates

MOD’s policy on estate sizes is that it should be no larger than necessary to meet operational needs of the Armed Forces. To this end, the overall size of the estate is kept under continual review and the rationalisation of land holdings and timely sale of surplus property remains a key priority.

The majority of the MOD’s married quarters in England and Wales, now known as service family accommodation, were sold to Annington Property Limited in 1996 and then leased back by the MOD. As properties become surplus to the MOD’s requirements they are surrendered to Annington Homes who in turn, sells or leases them individually to the public.

The MOD has retained ownership of the residential married quarter estate in Scotland and DIO normally sells any surplus married quarters directly to the public. We occasionally DIO sells residential property in England and Wales directly to the public. For further information please read the Disposal database: House of Commons report .

Some married quarters attracted a legal charge to protect the discount given to service personnel. This has now expired. If purchasers or mortgage lenders specifically want to have the legal charge lifted they should contact the appropriate DIO regional office which can make the necessary arrangements for a fee to cover our legal costs.

Sale of pieces of land

If you believe MOD owns a small piece of land which you are interested in purchasing, contact the appropriate DIO regional office with details of the area of land, including its address, description and grid reference if possible. A DIO representative will then investigate if it is MOD property and check availability and if applicable, advise on the method of sale.

Sale of property overseas

The MOD does not generally own land or property overseas. Any land or property occupied by the MOD is provided by the host country. Upon MOD vacating an overseas site it is handed back to the host country.


All MOD properties for disposal that have been used for a military purpose - ie chemicals or explosive storage - would normally have a Land Quality Assessment (LQA), to assess the level of any contamination. The prospective purchaser would be fully informed prior to the sale.

Clawback/overage requirements

The standard clawback clause, together with worked examples and guidance notes, is available in Policy Instruction 02/09. It is strongly recommended that prospective purchasers read and understand it.

Affordable housing

DIO works closely with the local planning authority whose policies determine the level of need for affordable housing allocated along with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the regeneration agency of the government for England and Wales.

DIO also works closely with the Welsh government, Scottish government and Northern Ireland Executive if they express an interest in a particular site. However, Treasury rules provide that unless there are exceptional circumstances sites must be transferred at market value.

Published 12 December 2012
Last updated 2 February 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated general information about selling MOD property.

  2. Amended link for latest Crichel Down Rules and added the rules were published by DCLG.

  3. There is a reference here to a website with DIO disposals on it. What is the site...where do you go if you want to see what ex MOD property,etc is available?

  4. First published.