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.
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’.
The Strategic Defence andSecurity Review
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’.
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.
This document spelled out three key objectives:
being transparent about landholdings and disposalprinciples, and selling land in accordance withTreasury guidelines;
not holding land longer than necessary; and
carrying out disposals on terms that both achievevalue for money in disposal receipts and generallypromote development, economic activity andgrowth.
Heritage buildings have been preserved at Gunwharf Quays,Portsmouth