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Exclusive Glenigan data reveals that the value of school building fell over 2011. However, the number of projects increased over last year, hinting at a change in conditions post BSF.

Following the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, there has been a reduced pool of funds available for investment in school construction.

Over last year, the total value of new school builds fell by 14% on 2010, compared to a 25% increase in the value of extension or refurbishment projects. Overall, the total value of school project starts fell by 4%, in contrast with the 7% increase in the number of projects. This indicates that either the government is scaling back the size of projects, or getting more value for money due to falling construction costs.

A sign of the Government’s ‘more for less’ agenda was the news last month that Willmott Dixon had sold its first pre-designed cut priced school to Warwickshire County Council. These standardised-design primary and secondary schools are projected to be cheaper and quicker to build, according to the building firm. There will likely be more such orders over 2012.

Another consequence of the reduced resources available is the shift last year from new builds to the refurbishment or extension of existing properties. The value of such improvement works increased from 21% over the total spent in 2009 to 34% in 2011.

Regionally, it is worth noting that the picture is not consistent. London has seen a large increase in the value of both new schools and improvements to existing schools over 2011. Demand for places, particularly at primary level, is rising fast in response to demographic trends and this will mean that it is likely that the Capital will see a continued flow of similar projects starting this year.

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