Francis Maude says the reduction in the government’s office estate is creating opportunities in prime locations

The departure of civil servants from central London offices is creating new development opportunities, according to Minister of the Cabinet Office Francis Maude.

Speaking at this morning’s Movers and Shakers Public Property Breakfast, Maude said that the government had too much property, and that too much of it was sub-standard. He said it would be better off in the hands of private developers.

He said: “Government property is too dispersed and too much is in the wrong place. In Central London it’s too sparsely occupied and it’s not up to standard. We need to co-locate and we need to cramp up and use space more intensively.”

Maude said that governmnet had vacated 36 buildings in central London since May 2010, which represtened 112,000sq m. “This starts to create real development opportunities. There’s a real growth story in this.”

The Government is currently rationalisation office estate in Bristol and Central London but Maude said it needed to do the same in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle. Maude cited the example of Admirality Arch, which is being turned into commercial and public space.

At the breakfast Maude also re-iterated the government’s desire to stimulate houesbuilding through the release of surplus public land. This, the goverment hopes, will create 100,000 units and 25,000 jobs by 2015.

Maude said already four departments - the MoD, Department of Transport, Department of Health and DEFRA - had identified land which could produce 50,000 new homes by this date.