The management of the Crown Estate - Treasury Contents


Extent of holdings

61. The CEC's Windsor Estate business division is conspicuously different in scale and character from the other three business divisions, and is managed at a loss. It is relatively small in terms of extent (6,300 hectares) and capital value (£166 million). In 2008-09 it accounted for 3% of total value and 2% of revenue of the Crown Estate. The lands and properties managed by the CEC as the Windsor Estate include Windsor Great Park, farms, forests, and residential and commercial properties. Key features include the Savill and Valley Gardens, Virginia Water Lake, Cumberland Lodge (a conference facility) the Long Walk and deer park, six golf courses and Ascot Racecourse. Windsor Castle is an occupied Royal Palace and therefore not part of the Crown Estate. The 1961 Act requires the Crown Estate to maintain the character of the Windsor Great Park as a Royal Park and forest.


62. In their written evidence, the CEC told us that "the cost of maintaining the Windsor Estate in 2008-09 was £8.3 million which was offset by revenue of £6.3 million from commercial and residential property, agriculture, visitor revenue, the sale of timber and Christmas trees and filming on the Estate."[85] Their Annual Report termed 2008-09 "a year of consolidation" for the Windsor Estate, noting that the £2 million loss was "in line with that recorded in previous years."[86]


63. In their written evidence, the CEC stated that their objectives were "to ensure that the Windsor Estate remains a valuable historic national asset; to maintain and improve the stewardship of the Estate; and to enable millions of people to make use of the various facilities."[87]

Wider issues

64. In the time available for this inquiry, we did not examine the Windsor Estate in great detail. With regard to our wider theme of the extent to which the CEC can accommodate wider public interests within its predominantly commercial remit, it is interesting to note from their schedule of properties that, in addition to the Windsor Estate, the CEC's holdings include a number of other important historic ancient possessions of the Crown, such as historic castles like Chester, Carlisle, and Carisbrooke. Here, stewardship must be predominant and, in most cases at least, the emphasis is likely to be on limiting the loss involved in their conservation and management. We did not have scope within our inquiry to investigate the extent of these non-commercial ancient possessions managed by the CEC, but consider that it would be helpful if they were distinguished from the rest of the CEC's commercial urban and property portfolio by virtue of their wider significance as part of the nation's heritage and because of their non-commercial nature.

65. We recognise that some of the ancient possessions still forming part of the Crown Estate are not managed directly by the CEC themselves but by other public bodies such as English Heritage. In Scotland, around the time of devolution, the CEC conveyed ancient castles and other historic ancient properties of the Crown in Scotland that were managed by Historic Scotland to the Secretary of State for Scotland so they would pass to the Scottish Government. At a time when the CEC are reviewing what they see as their 'core-assets', we can see merit in the Government and CEC reviewing whether any of the non-commercial ancient possessions in England and Wales might more appropriately be the sole responsibility of other public bodies with a conservation remit, such as English Heritage.

85   Ev 47 Back

86   Crown Estate, Annual Report 2009, July 2007, p 24 Back

87   Ev 47 Back

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