Vice Admiral Tim Laurence, chief executive of Defence Estates, has been appointed to a new role to champion property asset management within government.

Laurence, who is married to Princess Anne, has been appointed as head of the government’s property asset management profession. The role was announced at a government conference on 10 July.

The government’s estate totals 122m sq ft and its cost in 2007/2008 was estimated to be £3.5bn.

Laurence said: ‘The Government estate is a major asset, and we recognise the importance of ensuring it is managed efficiently for the taxpayer and the environment.

'This requires those involved in the function to have the right skills and capability and professional profile and status to deliver property solutions that are an integral part of running and delivering Government's business.

‘Today's economic and sustainability climate make it doubly important to have a professional body of property asset managers that can ensure that Government makes the best of its diverse and complex property portfolio.’

He will work with the departments’ heads of estates and the Office of Government Commerce in the role.

The government is focused on improving its asset management and last year rationalised its estate by more than 7.2m sq ft. It is also working to make its buildings more sustainable, as well as implementing its High Performing Property strategy and its Operational Efficiency Programme.

The government also said that the public sector estate is outperforming the private sector in areas such as vacant space – where five times less office space is left vacant – just 2.4% of the estate – than in the private sector, and building costs are 5% better in the public sector.