The Crown Estate has today (16 June 2022) announced a net revenue profit of £312.7 million for the financial year 2021/22
Net revenue profit: £312.7 million generated for the public purse, which is £43.4 million higher than last year.
Total return performance: 12-month total return is 12%, outperforming annual bespoke benchmark of 9.9%. On a three-year rolling basis, it is 8.3% against annual bespoke benchmark of 2.3%. Excluding the impact of Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4, performance is 0.3 percentage points ahead of the bespoke benchmark on a three-year rolling basis.
Value: The value of the portfolio increased by 8.3% to £15.6 billion. This has been driven primarily by an increase in the Marine portfolio.
Dan Labbad, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said:
“In what has been another year of change and disruption, our diverse portfolio continues to demonstrate its strength and resilience through our return to the public purse. Over the last ten years, we have contributed over £3 billion for public spending through the active management of a portfolio that now stands at £15.6 billion in value.
“We are not complacent about the challenges ahead and the volatility and change we have seen in recent years is here to stay. Last year we refreshed our purpose and set out a new strategy to ensure our business continues to serve customers and the country into the future. Our role is to support the nation in addressing some of the economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities we face, alongside delivering a strong return to the public finances. Whether that is helping accelerate the UK’s transition to a low carbon future through the responsible management of the seabed, enhancing biodiversity nationwide, supporting regional economic renewal or securing London’s future as a world-class city, we remain committed to continuing to create value both now and for the long-term.”
Creating lasting and shared prosperity for the nation
In last year’s 2020/21 Annual Report, The Crown Estate outlined its new purpose and strategy to shape its response to the longer-term trends impacting the business.
The strategy builds on The Crown Estate’s unique characteristics, including as an independent commercial business with a diverse portfolio. It will see the business change the way it operates to drive sustainable financial returns to the Treasury by focusing its impact in three key areas set out below. Through all of these activities, The Crown Estate will seek to promote economic growth and support productivity:
Being a leader in supporting the UK towards a net zero carbon future
Helping to create thriving communities and renewing urban centres in London and across the UK
Taking a leading role in stewarding the UK’s natural environment and biodiversity
Across all of this activity sits The Crown Estate’s commitment to become a net zero business by aligning to the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Climate Agreement, with a target to become a net zero carbon business by 2030, and climate positive thereafter.
Alongside decarbonising its property portfolio and looking at how it can better use its extensive land interests, it is also seeking solutions to restore the natural world by providing and protecting habitats.
In support of this strategy, the past year has been one of transition, putting in place the foundations from which to deliver by building new teams, growing capabilities and establishing new ways of working.
Marine strategy: The demand for marine space is greater than ever due to the need to strengthen domestic energy supplies and hasten the UK’s low carbon energy transition. The Crown Estate’s role is to accelerate the leasing of offshore technologies in a responsible way that can optimise the seabed’s economic, social and environmental potential. It aims to:
make seabed leasing rights available in an integrated way
invest to de-risk the development of offshore technologies through pre-consenting works and enabling actions, e.g. floating wind and supporting the development of carbon capture and hydrogen markets
look at ways to invest to unlock barriers to development
use its convening power to work with the government and private sector to drive progress, drawing on its ‘whole seabed view’
World leading offshore wind market: Offshore wind generation across The Crown Estate’s seabed holdings is now estimated to power 8.6 million homes, equivalent to delivering the annual electricity needs for around 31% of all UK homes and 12% of the UK’s total electricity needs
Offshore Wind Leasing, Round 4 (Round 4):
Last year, The Crown Estate announced the outcome of Round 4 bidding process, which could provide up to 8GW of offshore wind power subject to approval following the Habitats Regulations Assessment process (an environmental assessment known as Plan Level HRA). On 21 April 2022 The Crown Estate announced the conclusion of this process and its intention to proceed with all of the selected projects on the basis of derogation.
Round 4, together with planned leasing from Crown Estate Scotland, build on the UK’s existing, world-leading, offshore wind pipeline of 43GW, and could help take the total to over 80GW.
Floating wind: In 2021, The Crown Estate developed proposals for early and full commercial-scale floating wind leasing in the Celtic Sea, off Wales and the South West, where there is a huge wind resource. The aim is to open up the potential of at least 4GW of new clean-energy capacity in England and Wales, helping establish a new industrial sector for the UK.
Investment to sustainably accelerate offshore wind deployment:
In June 2022, The Crown Estate doubled its commitment to The Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, from £25 million to £50 million. This programme, launched in December 2020 in partnership with the UK Government and 27 member organisations, seeks to enable the coexistence of offshore wind farms with a thriving marine environment as the nation ramps up aspirations to accelerate home-grown energy independence.
Capital value: The value of the Marine portfolio increased by 22% to £5.0 billion, driven largely by offshore wind, in particular leasing Round 4.
As one of the West End’s largest property owners, The Crown Estate has a leading role to play in its post-pandemic renewal and retaining its status as a global city. In the short term, this means creating exciting and engaging reasons to visit the city and preparing to re-start the development pipeline. In the long-term, it means using its convening power with many cross-sector partners to guide its regeneration into a sustainable, accessible and smart city. This will mean:
investing in decarbonisation and putting a greater focus on increasing biodiversity
creating an attractive and diverse mix of offers and services to ensure London is an appealing, welcoming place for everyone.
Capital value and performance.
The capital value of the London portfolio remained flat at £7.7 billion, reflecting improved trading conditions, balanced with a mixed outlook. The portfolio underperformed its MSCI West End benchmark during the year at 3.5% compared to the benchmark’s 5.7%. On a three-year basis performance is slightly behind the benchmark.
In spite of the challenging trading and changing market dynamics, 66 new customers were welcomed across all sectors, leasing 190,000 sq ft of space, 93% up on the previous year. These new additions to the portfolio reflect an evolution towards a more diverse offer to meet the needs of customers and attract more visitors to the West End, mixing up flagship stores with smaller format spaces and a focus on experiential products. This includes Ikea’s smaller format on Oxford Circus to Gymshark’s first ever bricks-and-mortar store due to open on Regent Street.
Supporting the hospitality industry to attract talent: In recognition of the significant recruitment challenge the hospitality sector is facing, The Crown Estate worked with a number of its customers from some of London’s most acclaimed restaurants and cafes to host a jobs fair offering more than 500 potential roles. Customers who participated included: Park Row, Fallow, Café Murano, Corbin & King Group Limited, Hotel Café Royal and Ole & Steen, along with independent brands such as Neat Burger and Avocado Show.
Regional strategy: The Crown Estate holds a significant nationwide portfolio that includes retail parks, shopping centres and a substantial strategic landholding. Together, the base that these represent has the long-term potential to support the national need for inclusive regeneration and economic renewal, including through mixed-use development. Maximising this opportunity will inevitably mean a reduction in exposure in certain areas – particularly in retail - to reposition, enhance and grow a portfolio of mixed-use development opportunities.
During the year the portfolio outperformed its MSCI benchmark at 24.9% compared with the benchmark’s 16.0%. Driven by strengthened investor sentiment, the portfolio has seen a net revaluation gain of £0.3 billion, recovering much of the net revaluation loss reported in the year to March 2021. The outperformance of the benchmark was largely driven by retail parks, towards which the portfolio is weighted, and broader ownerships, such as the East Hemel strategic land site and Cambridge Business Park which significantly increased in capital value
New customers: 17 new customers and signed 44 new leases across the portfolio, letting 221,000 sq ft of space, while 212,000 sq ft of space has been exited and remains void at 31 March 2022. Void rate is at 6.8%, which although high compared to the three-year average of 5.4%, proved resilient and is above the MSCI benchmark at 6.2%.
Recruit Regional employment programme: Recruit Regional continues to thrive and is now in its sixth year. This year the programme has placed 332 unemployed people into employment across four of our sites at Rushden Lakes, Fosse Park, The Gate and Silverlink.
Windsor & Rural
Windsor and rural strategies:
The Crown Estate is the sixth largest institutional landowner in the UK, managing 191,000 acres of land, including the Windsor Estate. The emerging rural strategy will seek to respond to the ecological pressures and need for greater food security through demonstrating leadership in diversified, regenerative agricultural and environmental practice. The Windsor Estate, which is home to a number of unique habitats, aims to become recognised as a leading UK rural estate and a centre of excellence for environmental and ecological best practice.
Net revenue profit increased to £18.0 million (2020/21: £17.0 million) as the visitor business at Windsor recovered strongly from Covid-19, partially offsetting increased costs from repairs to rural properties that had been deferred during the pandemic.
Renewable energy and efficiency at Windsor Great Park:
The refurbishment of the café and retail outlet at Virginia Water has been completed with solar panels installed. In November 2021, smart building technology was installed at The Savill Building to help identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency. These initiatives – along with a biomass heating system for the village, and a commitment to install on-site solar generation and battery storage during 2022 – form key milestones to 2025 and in support of The Crown Estate’s target to be net zero by 2030.
A ten-year landscape restoration and replanting programme has made progress this year, including plating two new avenues of 70 trees each, to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
About offshore wind and derogation
Derogation is a process which enables plans or projects to progress if certain tests are met, while ensuring any environmental impacts are fully offset through environmental compensatory measures. This can include a range of actions including creating or restoring the same or similar habitat, or measures to reduce other environmental pressures on the affected habitats.
About the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme (OWEC)
The Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme is an ambitious strategic research and data-led programme to facilitate the sustainable and coordinated expansion of offshore wind in the UK. It is a five-year programme that will play a pivotal role in achieving the environmental aspirations of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal alongside other strategic delivery programmes.
The Programme is led by The Crown Estate in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It is being delivered in collaboration with a number of organisations that share an interest in planning for the future of offshore wind.
For further information about the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, and the projects being delivered, see here.
Completed projects are published on the Marine Data Exchange (MDE), the world’s largest database of offshore renewables survey data, research and evidence.