Friday, July 13, 2007

Royal Profits

Roger Bright , Second Commissioner of the Crown Estate, in effect the chief executive of one the largest and most powerful landowners in the country is responsible for property and other assets worth more than £7 billion , according to the BBC.

The Crown Estate origin dates back to the Norman Conquest when William I took possession of all land in England "in right of the Crown". Although the size and value of the sovereign's hereditary possessions have fluctuated considerably over the last 900 years - as have the uses to which they have been put - the estate has remained intact. Since the middle of the 18th Century, Crown lands have been managed on behalf of the government with any surplus income they generate - which totalled £200.1m last year - being paid to the Treasury. The Crown Estate is managed independently of both government and Crown but the reigning monarch, as well as the Prime Minister, retain the power to appoint its board members.

It has an impact on most facets of British life and economic activity - ranging from retailing to farming to coastal management. The Estate's urban property portfolio, which includes more than 2,000 ultra-desirable residential addresses in central London and industrial and commercial holdings across the UK, is huge by any measure and makes up its main source of income. London's Regent Street, whose freehold it almost entirely owns, is the organisation's flagship asset .

780 farms it owns . Other assets: Windsor Great Park, Kensington Palace Gardens, Ascot racecourse , a stake in the Bluewater shopping centre .

The Crown has always owned the rights to the foreshore and the offshore seabed up to the UK's territorial limits. The Estate in 2004 it was put in charge of licensing offshore wind, tidal and wave projects up to 200 nautical miles. Wind is the most advanced of these technologies with four farms now operational, a similar number under construction and 15 more approved.
The Estate is confident about the commercial prospect for offshore renewable energy, believing it will generate £20m in revenue from its licences by 2020 compared to £400,000 now .

The Crown Estates has set itself increasingly aggressive commercial targets - it aims to boost profits by £50m by 2012 .

"We are much more commercial than one may think," Roger Bright concludes.

Indeed Roger , we in the SPGB have never doubted it

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