The Crown Estate is exploring the potential of launching a vehicle for its £2bn Regent Street properties.

Property Week asked the Crown about the plan on March 4, but was told then: ‘There are no current plans for an investment vehicle at Regent Street.’

The proposals will open up the £2bn Regent Street estate to external investors for the first time.

The move, originally tipped by Property Week in the summer (City View, 13-07-07), would diversify the risk in the Regent Street portfolio – which accounts for over a quarter of all the Crown Estate’s property.

‘The purpose of such a vehicle would be to enable The Crown Estate to release funds for investment,’ said a statement from the company.

‘If such a vehicle were to be pursued, The Crown Estate would retain the freehold ownership of the entire street and maintain overall responsibility for its strategic direction.’

The Crown has begun to invest in funds following a legal analysis of the Crown Estate Act in 2006 that led to the discovery that the Crown Estate could set up and invest in funds.

It has since bought a 4.7% stake in the Lend Lease Retail Partnership and set up a £680m retail park partnership with the British Land-managed Hercules Unit Trust.

It is understood that CB Richard Ellis will be advising the Crown Estate on the feasibility of the vehicle.

A feasibility exercise will be concluded in early 2009.