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DECONSTRUCTED: British royal is top asset manager

PERE Magazine September 2009: The husband of Princess Anne now will lead the UK’s government property managers

We have brought you tales of the British royal family dabbling in real estate before.

Prince Charles, the future king of England, recently forced Qatari Diar to revise plans for the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks in London because the Prince felt the project was too modernist. But the property sector noblesse oblige does not end there. Now Vice Admiral Tim Laurence – the husband of the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne – is in charge of the government’s property asset management profession. Laurence is already deeply involved with real estate – he has been in charge of the Ministry of Defence’s estates as chief executive since 2007.

According to a press release, his new role involves “championing the government property asset management community, including practitioners in construction procurement, estates and property management, and facilities management/contracts
management” .

The Office of Government Commerce boasted recently that the public property sector (government sponsored entities) had been outperforming the private sector in many areas, office vacancy rates included. At just 2.4 percent, the public rate is “five times” better than in the private sector, it said.

Given the government’s position as a major occupier, we’re not surprised. That said, the government has been downsizing its estate to cut costs. Last year, it made a reduction of 678,000 square metres or the equivalent to 160 soccer pitches.