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Interview: Wendy Ivess-Mash from the Ministry of Defence

Mon 23rd September 2013, 10:01 am

The Sitematch team speaks to Wendy Ivess-Mash, deputy head project & programme delivery: acquisitions & disposals, at the Ministry of Defence to discuss the departmentís disposal strategy and the sale of a high profile properties.

Brompton Road Station

What is your role and what are your responsibilities?

My role is to manage the acquisitions and disposals programme within the Defence Infrastructure Organisation. I lead a team of 28 chartered surveyors located across the country, and with a range of professional backgrounds, to deliver the MOD’s site disposal programme and support any acquisitions that are required to support defence operations. Needless to say, the number of acquisitions is fewer than the number of disposals!

I was fortunate enough to join the MOD in September 1989 as a graduate from the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester and became an associate of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rural Practice) in May 1991, following some eighteen months of work on the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA).

In 1995 I transferred to the then Central Disposals Section selling surplus MoD sites that were high value, novel, contentious and/or complex, and thereafter became head of disposals for all surplus land in the Wessex area and subsequently the lead for all MOD site disposals across the UK.

How much money is MoD expecting generate through disposals in the coming years and are there any noteworthy sites that are coming to market in the coming months?

The MOD estate is incredibly diverse and this is reflected within our site disposal portfolio. Over my career I have sold a naval base, helicopter station, former airfields, Barracks, churches, training areas, lakes, golf courses and houses. Within this year’s programme we are selling a former rifle range, airfield, barracks and polo field to name but a few, and are charged with meeting an in-year target this financial year of some £141m, together with releasing sufficient land on which to deliver 11,120 housing units to support the Governments wider growth agenda.

Why is the Ministry of Defence attending Sitematch?

We sell our sites using a range of methods and we are delighted to be participating in the Sitematch event on 22 November to assess the interest that can be generated through this approach.

How large is the estate of MoD? What types of property does it include?

The department is one of the largest landowners in the country, with an estate equal to over 1 per cent of the UK land mass. The estate, spread over approximately 4,000 sites, is critical to the effectiveness of the Armed Forces. It is used for training and accommodation and provides a base from which operations can be instigated.

The total area (freehold and leasehold) of the Defence Estate is some 229 thousand ha with additional rights and grants providing further capability of over 205 thousand hectares should it be required. It is held solely to support the delivery of defence capability. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) came into existence on 1 April 2011 as recommended in the Defence Reform Review and includes TLB property and facilities management functions. The DIO manages property assets ranging from barracks and airfields to rural training areas. These are valued at about £24 billion. The annual cost of new construction, maintenance and property management is over £2 billion.

Can you give an update on the marketing of the Brompton Road Station site?

Our sale of the Brompton Road site, complete with access to the old Brompton Road underground station is one of our more unique sales. The site is currently on the market through our agent Jones Lang Lasalle with informal bids expected in mid-October. The bidders will be shortlisted and then process which will look at the sum offered and any three or four will be asked to provide best and final bids through a formal tender amendments to the sale contract. Sale completion is expected this financial year.

The sale of the Old War Office has been confirmed, when will this site come onto the market?

It has been announced that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) will move out of the Old War Office building (OWO) and transfer operations into Main Building (MB), bringing together MOD teams into the one building. To allow for the vacation and sale of OWOB, significant works need to be undertaken in MB to accommodate the additional staff. The work in MB will require an external hoist for around 12 months from August 2013. The location and design of the hoist has been agreed with Westminster City Council and English Heritage and will minimise disruption to MB operations.

In parallel to this construction work, DIO will be seeking to clarify the future planning position with Westminster City Council with the aim of completing the sale in financial year 2015.

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