The Government’s Budget statement confirms that the QEII Conference Centre is to be sold, although a Communities and Local Government spokesperson says “current market conditions preclude any immediate sale”.
Last year’s pre-budget report (PBR) concluded that there was no public policy justification for the Government to continue to own the QEIICC.
“We expect disposal to take place before the middle of 2012 at the latest. In the interim the conference centre will continue to operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis and will continue to enter into contracts up until this date,” the CLG spokesperson says.
A group of property experts is to undertake a development study to explore redeveloping the site. However, tough planning considerations are likely to mean that the existing conference business will be the model at the centre for the foreseeable future.
QEIICC chief executive Ernest Vincent tells conference-news that the centre is trading well and views the Government’s plan for a sale as “all about best value for the taxpayer”. He reports the financial year to April has seen a net surplus of around £3m.
Running government property more effectively could save £5 billion in 10 years, according to advisers who drafted an Operational Efficiency Programme for the government.
British Waterways, the Dartford Crossing and the Land Registry are other state assets the Government is looking to sell as it tries to shore up public finances.