The One Public Estate

One Public Estate (OPE) is an initiative delivered in partnership by the Cabinet Office Government Property Unit (GPU) and the Local Government Association (LGA). It provides practical and technical support and funding to councils to deliver ambitious property-focused programmes in collaboration with central government and other public sector partners.

At its heart, the programme is about getting more from our collective assets – whether that’s catalysing major service transformation such as health and social care integration and benefits reform, unlocking land for new homes and commercial space, or creating new opportunities to save on running costs or generate income.

This is encompassed in three core objectives, to:

  • create efficiencies (generating capital receipts and reduce running costs);
  • create local economic growth (new jobs and homes); and
  • deliver more integrated, customer-focused services.

OPE began as a pilot programme with 12 pilot areas in 2013. In 2014, a further 20 pilots were successful in joining the programme.

In December 2015, a national rollout of the OPE programme was announced, welcoming 107 councils in 24 partnerships. With the completion of a further two rounds of funding, the programme now involves 63 partnerships across over 70% of councils in England.

The programme expects councils that joined before 2017 to be able to deliver at least £158m in reduced running costs savings, £615m in capital receipts, 44,000 jobs release land for 25,000 homes. Council forecasts are higher and are not externally referenced.

In order to join the programme, councils are encouraged to partner with neighbouring authorities to create ambitious plans to deliver property-led transformation. As partnerships join the programme, they are required to fulfil set criteria, including gaining senior buy-in, establishing strong governance structures, and recording details of all properties on the electronic Property Information Mapping Service (ePIMS) database. ePIMS provides a single platform through which partnerships can view assets to make informed decisions on property.

On 1 August, One Public Estate launched a joint funding round with DCLG.  This includes c. £8.5m in revenue funding from OPE and £45m from DCLG’s Land Release Fund, open to both existing partnerships and councils joining new partnerships. The Land Release Fund is a capital funding pot that will support councils to accelerate the release of council-owned land for new homes by 2020. An announcement will be made on 8 December on the funding allocations made to OPE partnerships.

Carl Hewson