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East Midlands Chamber News

Nottingham chosen to pilot government property sharing scheme

Nottingham has been chosen as one of 12 new pilot areas across the country for a pilot scheme designed to encourage local and central government services to share offices or release surplus buildings to promote growth.

The One Public Estate scheme is hoped to deliver savings and encourage redevelopment.

The pilots examine issues within geographic areas rather than departmental structures, making use of local knowledge.

The idea is based on the premise that while from a central Government perspective it might make sense for a department to occupy a specific building or to sell it independently, in a local context that thinking may cause inefficiencies.

Taking a narrow departmental view can also get in the way of offering better services to local people by providing them in one location.

Sharing buildings to encourage regeneration and growth, or by selling land in small parcels rather than the larger areas, could attract local development and business.

In Nottingham, plans include relocating Central Fire Station and the neighbouring Central Police Station to open up a considerable regeneration site in the city centre, as well as restructuring the Land Registry’s estate at Chalfont Drive to allow residential development.

On a visit to one of the pilot areas, Chloë Smith, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, , said: “I wanted to see first-hand the pioneering work public services are doing locally to get the most out of their buildings.

"Millions of pounds can be wasted by services using expensive buildings when there’s a half empty property down the road – that’s taxpayers’ money which could be used in so many other ways. This policy will save money – but also promote growth and bring in jobs locally.

“In central Government, we’re working hard to ensure the taxpayer does not have to pay for empty buildings. Already, we’ve raised over £1bn nationally by getting departments to work together and use their property more efficiently. It’s great to see local authorities making such good progress, by thinking in new ways about property issues.”

Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) said: “Local Government has long been acknowledged as the most efficient part of the public sector and these pilots are a fantastic opportunity to build on that reputation and work with our partners in other public agencies to save taxpayers money, boost economic growth and make it easier for people to access services.

“By improving cooperation between central and local Government we can save money through the more efficient use of public assets.

"While these pilots represent the flagships, this type of innovation is evident in councils right across the country.”