“We’ve just embarked on the footprint strategy, which is to radically redefine how much estate the military will use longer-term, because while the number of military personnel has declined quite significantly and will continue to downsize, there’s not yet a coherent plan to reduce the military’s footprint,” Manley said. That plan is being developed as the MoD works out how and when it’s withdrawing its forces from Germany, and thus exactly what its UK requirements will be for bases, depots and training grounds.
Having made these decisions, said Manley, DIO will “rationalise the estate”. To date, MoD land sales have been “quite a gentle, passive process. This aims to be very much more aggressive in terms of how we utilise the estate going forward, to the benefit of the taxpayer,” he said.
The DIO is awaiting approval before launching a tender process to bring in a “strategic partner”, Manley explained. “By bringing a partner in we’ll be able to indulge in a much more sophisticated way of looking at the estate and put the military on less estate, use it better, concentrate our investment in those areas and then divest ourselves of quite a lot of things we don’t need.”
At that point the partner will help DIO get a better price for its land, he said: “We expect to see the partner bring seed funding that would allow us to, for example, do better design work on the estate; to look at options to put in basic infrastructure that will create value, so when we come to dispose of something the taxpayer gets a better return.”
Using the partner’s skills in design work, infrastructure development, joint-venture creation and profit-sharing schemes, Manley explained, the DIO will maximise yields from its sales. “We’re certainly not in the game of allowing developers to buy things off us on the cheap and then go away and make a wacky upside profit”, he said.
Read the full interview with Andrew Manley