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Albert Bridge House, Manchester

Assessing public sector property in Greater Manchester

Judith Sargent

In 2010, the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency Reform Group set-up the Government Property Unit (GPU).

As the property function of the Group, the GPU leads the government’s property strategy across its estate, which totals £370 billion and costs around £25 billion per annum to run [source: www.bis.gov.uk]. 

The formation of the GPU followed in the wake of Sir Philip Green’s review into Government efficiency (including its property portfolio). The review recommended a centralisation of government procurement to drive down costs.

Driving cost savings and promoting economic growth

The GPU is responsible for delivering targeted savings, as well improving the built environment and promoting economic growth where possible.

In August 2011 we were appointed by the GPU to review part of the government’s office estate in Greater Manchester. This comprised 57 buildings, totaling 1.9m sq ft. We were asked to provide strategic advice to ascertain cost savings and rationalisation opportunities across the estate, in order to add value over the next five years.

Assessment of 57 office buildings in Greater Manchester

Within an eight week timeframe we individually inspected and provided marketing reports on the 57 office buildings across Greater Manchester. Our detailed knowledge of the market itself helped to create a comprehensive review that, in some cases, surpassed the original brief.

As well as assessing the marketability of each building, we also carried out space audits on the properties to determine where cost savings could be made. Our Building Consultancy team delivered this side of the project, while also advising on potential fit-out and dilapidation issues.

We also reviewed the ‘core’ and ‘surplus’ statuses applied to buildings, challenging these where appropriate.

Cost savings identified across the estate

The 57 reports prompted a modelling exercise for each building. This was then used as the basis for our recommendations to the GPU for its entire estate. The completion of the project has provided the GPU with a comprehensive review of its in-scope offices in Greater Manchester, with recommendations to deliver significant cost savings.  

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