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Forces for Good - Town & Country Planning article

Forces for Good - Town & Country Planning article

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Published by Julian Dobson
A summary of the Forces for Good research, co-written by Julian Dobson and Samer Bagaeen for Town & Country Planning, April 2012
A summary of the Forces for Good research, co-written by Julian Dobson and Samer Bagaeen for Town & Country Planning, April 2012

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Published by: Julian Dobson on May 02, 2012
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02/02/2013

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development – a total of £3.4billion between1998/99 and 2008/09.
2
With a rising tide of landvalues and property prices until 2007/08, there haseven been money left over to fund communityinfrastructure, from affordable housing at CaterhamBarracks to the preservation of heritage buildings atRoyal William Yard, Plymouth, and Gunwharf Quays,Portsmouth. However, since the onset of thefinancial crisis in 2007/2008, it has become muchharder to realise such gains, both for the MOD andfor local communities.In 2010, the Bill Sargent Trust, a Portsmouth-basedresearch charity, published
In the Public Interest? 
3
The mantra of the Coalition Government has beento devolve power to the people. New laws haveestablished community rights to buy assets ofpublic value and have created the opportunity forlocal residents to become involved inneighbourhood planning. A key test of thesereforms will be the fate of much of the UK’s militaryland. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) owns nearly1% of the UK’s landmass, and much of it is alreadyor will soon become surplus to defencerequirements.
1
In the past the MOD has been able to raisesignificant sums by making surplus land available for
forces for good
Julian Dobson
and
Samer Bagaeen
consider the implicationsof the financial crisis and new government legislation for there-use of former Defence Estate land for public benefit
184
Town &Country Planning April 2012
Above
Housing at the former Caterham Barracks site,closed by the Ministry of Defence in 1995
   P   h  o   t  o  s  :   S  a  m  e  r   B  a  g  a  e  e  n
 
Town &Country Planning April 2012
185
The report examined how community benefits couldbe achieved from the sale of military land in a post-recession environment, examining the models usedin previous years and recommending changes to thevaluation and disposal of public land. The underlyingpremise of the report was that land owned by thestate should be disposed of so as to maximise itssocial, economic and environmental value, ratherthan simply on the basis of the capital receiptobtainable.One key finding from this report is that aspirationsfor community benefits were unlikely to be achievedwithout changes in the MOD’s approach to landdisposals. The report recommended a new approachto valuing publicly owned land, with an emphasis onthe likely long-term value to be gained from thefuture use of assets rather than on the immediatecash receipt achievable. It called for better methodsof ensuring co-operation between differentgovernment departments and local stakeholders;and for more effective ways of sharing goodpractice so that communities affected or likely to beaffected by defence land sales could learn fromeach other.In the period since
In the Public Interest? 
waspublished, there have been some significantdevelopments that could help to provide newopportunities to achieve social and economicbenefits from the disposal of defence land. TheLocalism Act 2011 provides a new legal approach toasset transfer. Other developments include theadvent of neighbourhood and community-ledplanning, and the re-organisation of the ArmedForces will make new land and facilities available. Inaddition, the formal recognition of the ‘militarycovenant’ provides the basis for new partnershipsbetween local communities and the Armed Forces.Put together, these developments set the scene forcommunity-led development and regeneration offormer military land.
A new opportunity for community-led planning –the changing needs of the Armed Forces
The MOD remains one of the UK’s largestlandowners. Its estate is spread over 4,000 sitesand covers some 230,000hectares, plus another205,000hectares where there are military rights ofaccess and use.
4
This does not include land andbuildings used by the Reserve Forces. Thelandholdings include more than 49,000 propertiesused as family accommodation, of which 6,000 arecurrently empty. The estate was valued at nearly£20billion in 2010, and costs £2.9billion a year tomaintain.
2
Britain’s Armed Forces are going through theirmost fundamental period of change since the endof the Cold War. At the same time, defence
Left
The former MODsite at Priddy’sHard in Gosporthas beenredeveloped forhousing,with partof the site retainedas a museum
‘These developments set thescene for community-leddevelopment and regenerationof former military land’
 
186
Town &Country Planning April 2012
spending has come under extraordinary pressure asthe Government seeks to match its militarycommitments with radical cuts in publicexpenditure. The result is that the MOD is beingforced to examine all its landholdings in order tomaximise the use of its assets and realise whatevergains it can from the sale of surplus land. However,this exercise is being undertaken at a time whenproperty values outside Central London remaindepressed. This is compounded by the fact thatmuch MOD land is in areas that have been highlydependent economically on military activity (such asAldershot and Whitehill Bordon in Hampshire).The 2006 report
In Trust and On Trust 
set out astrategic goal of rationalising the defence estate togive fewer, larger sites, while smaller sites were tobe sold.
5
This was followed by the Defence EstatesDevelopment Plan 2009, which stressed the needto relocate away from southern England, statingthat the MOD has a ‘disproportionately largepresence there’.
6
The Strategic Defence andSecurity Review
7
published in October 2010 outlinedtwo priorities: to protect the Armed Forces’ missionin Afghanistan, and to ‘make sure we emerge witha coherent defence capability in 2020’.
8
But there was also a third priority, which was tobalance the books: in the 12 years since theprevious defence review the MOD had accumulateda deficit of £38billion. In the next five years, thereview revealed, the Armed Forces would lose17,000 Army, Navy and RAF jobs, and 25,000 civilianposts. A further wave of cuts was announced inJuly 2011, along with plans to rationalise the ArmedForces’ bases. These contractions will have a drasticimpact on the MOD’s landholdings. A much smallermilitary sector will require far less property foraccommodation, training and upkeep of equipment.Following the Strategic Defence and SecurityReview, in April 2011 Defence Estates was mergedinto a new Defence Infrastructure Organisation(DIO). This process of re-organisation appears tohave slowed down the disposal of sites. Inparticular, the DIO must work out which UK sitesare still needed following the reshuffle initiated bythe withdrawal from Germany. However, this islikely to be a temporary lull. On 5 October 2011, theDIO published its interim strategy for land disposal.
9
This document spelled out three key objectives:
q
being transparent about landholdings and disposalprinciples, and selling land in accordance withTreasury guidelines;
q
not holding land longer than necessary; and
q
carrying out disposals on terms that both achievevalue for money in disposal receipts and generallypromote development, economic activity andgrowth.
Above
Heritage buildings have been preserved at Gunwharf Quays,Portsmouth

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