The Government, in the passage of the Railways Act 2005, stated that the current arrangement for the management and disposal of land held by BRB (Residuary) Limited ("the Company") would not be affected by the transfer of ownership from the Strategic Rail Authority to the Secretary of State. This guidance, which the Government has undertaken to publish, confirms how decisions on the disposal of land should be made. It replaces the relevant Directions and Guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority.
Notwithstanding the duties of the Directors of the Company under its Articles of Association, the Secretary of State, as the sole shareholder of the Company, has resolved that the Company shall establish an autonomous Property Review Group ("the Group"). The Group is to take decisions (to the exclusion of the Directors of the Company) as to whether to authorise the release for disposal of land owned by the Company in the context of applicable Government policies, particularly those relating to the promotion of sustainable transport. In assessing whether there is a realistic prospect of rail or other transport use in the foreseeable future, the Group should avoid taking a short-term view. Decisions should be made after the potential of sites has been evaluated in a rigorous way.
The Group should look to the rail industry, devolved administrations and local authorities to acquire sites with rail potential, allowing time for detailed consideration of future ownership and use, and for obtaining necessary consents. But if these bodies do not purchase sites it should consider whether they should be retained by the Company for rail use at a later date. In reaching such decisions the Group should weigh carefully the risks of blight and the lost development opportunities, including other Government objectives, such as making brownfield sites available for development.
Where the Group decides to give authority for the disposal of a site for railway use rather than alternative development, it should require the Company to obtain market value for that land reflecting the limitation on its use. The Company should take all reasonable steps to ensure that a purchaser of land for railway use will not then be able to maximise the development value of the land for another use.
Before authorising the release for disposal of land not required for railway purposes the Group, having regard to the objective of contributing to the development of an integrated system of transport and having regard to any community rail development policy, shall consult with the rail industry, the Department for Transport, the relevant devolved administrations, local authorities and regional planning bodies, and consider whether that land has an alternative transport use.