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Departmental Housing

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the (a) potential annual rental and (b) total book value of (i) empty and (ii) occupied residential properties owned by his Department. (313740)

Information in respect of the Driving Standards Agency and the Highways Agency is provided as follows.

The Driving Standards Agency owns the freehold of the land for its Bournemouth Driving Test Centre. Above the centre are two residential flats. Both are occupied. The Driving Standards Agency receives a peppercorn rent of £20 per annum in total. The occupiers of the flats each own the leasehold of their flat.

Property owner-occupiers who are unable to sell their homes because they are directly affected by a proposed Highways Agency road scheme (i.e. likely to have land acquired in the future) and are unable to sell it at a normal market price because of the scheme, can serve a blight notice on the Highway’s Agency under the blight provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts. If the notice is accepted, the agency has to purchase the property in advance of its operational requirement. These properties cannot be sold immediately because any new owner would be able to serve another blight notice on the agency requiring it to purchase the property again. The properties could also not be sold at a normal market value. These properties are therefore held by the agency while the scheme is in the major projects programme and the route is protected from development. In some cases this can be for a number of years.

The potential annual rental income from the Highways Agency’s residential properties would be £3.4 million, if all the properties were let and in good tenantable condition. The net book value of the agency’s properties that are currently let is £67.3 million; the net book value of the empty properties is £22.9 million. This valuation takes into account current condition and the effect of the planned road improvement on the property.

The values and potential rental income are broken down in more detail in the following table.


Net book value

Potential annual rental income

Beyond economic repair



In sale process



Currently under repair/refurbishment



Seeking tenants



Awaiting demolition



Held vacant for consideration for refurbishment next financial year



Total for empty properties



Total for occupied properties