Managers of Queen's properties come under scrutiny

Managers of Queen's properties come under scrutiny


Crown Estate, the organisation responsible for managing the Queen’s property portfolio and some of the UK’s most famous landmarks, has been attacked by MPs for not taking account of wider public interests.

The Crown Estate controls property officially owned by the Queen and pays its profits, which amounted to £227m in the last financial year, to the Treasury and the taxpayer.

As a result of the first inquiry into the organisation for 20 years, there are now calls for a review of operations, which encompass everything from Ascot racecourse and Regent Street to swathes of British coastline.

Although not widely known, the group has a portfolio worth £6bn, more than enough to match that of the country’s leading property companies. The group’s influence extends from attracting Apple to its Regent Street shop in London, to sourcing Britain’s renewable energy sources for the future.

However, in the report by the Treasury Sub-Committee, the Crown Estate is effectively accused of not doing enough to aid measures to prevent future fuel shortage in the UK, and of focusing too much on lucrative profit making ventures rather than acting in a “wider public interest.”


The investigation comes on the back of complaints from energy companies that, as the owner of the British seabed, the Crown Estate is inhibiting the fiscal viability of gas storage by demanding over-priced rent for potential sites.


The organization has also been criticized of failing to consult sufficiently with residents in Hackney over plans to sell 1,300 homes for around £250m to boost profits. 


The homes have previously been leased by the Estate group for 80 years, and the sale is said to offer nothing at all in the way of benefit to the tenants, who cite the importance of affordable housing for London’s inner-city public sector workers.


Whilst many of the group’s assets, such as Windsor Park and Regent Street, have been inherited from the crown, Roger Bright, CEO, prides himself on the success of Crown Estate as a commercial venture, having pulled off deal such as the acquisition of the Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford from Liberty, the FTSE 100 company.


Proposed changes to the group, such as the scrapping of joint ventures and moving legacy assets to other public bodies with conservation remits, are said to reflect the changing nature and importance of the assets the Crown Estate holds.


As Britain’s reliance on overseas energy imports comes under scrutiny, the seabed and coastal land held by the organization, currently viewed as key for salmon farmers in Scotland, has come to be seen as critical for Britain’s future energy supplies.


The Crown Estate stated that it “will study carefully the Committee’s various recommendations in consultation with the Treasury” with regards to the biggest changes it could face in 50 years.

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