Crown land values confirm recovery

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The Independent Online
THE CROWN Estate, one of the country's largest land-owners, confirmed the improved state of the property market yesterday by announcing an 18 per cent increase in the value of its portfolio, writes Tom Stevenson.

Christopher Howes, chief executive, said the performance of the estate in the year to March had been better than that of any commercial property company except possibly British Land.

Assets, which include large blocks of property in London as well as 300,000 acres of agricultural land and the seabed out to 12 miles from the coast, were valued at pounds 1.95bn at the year-end, up from pounds 1.66bn. Revenue surplus, broadly equivalent to profits, was 6 per cent higher at pounds 78.9m.

Mr Howes said the urban portfolio, with holdings in Regent's Park and Regent Street, had shown a total return last year of 27.7 per cent, a better performance than comparable indexes produced by Jones Lang Wootton and Richard Ellis, the property agents.

To reduce the estate's dependence on the volatile London market, investment was made in growth towns outside the South- east such as Cheltenham, where a retail park and Sainsbury's superstore were acquired.

The balance of the portfolio had also been shifted from offices to retail.

Surplus revenues, which are handed to the Treasury each year in return for the Civil List payments to the royal family, have grown by 81 per cent since 1989.