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BSF chief backs calls for more refurb work

Building Schools for the Future chief Tim Byles has backed an English Heritage report calling for more refurbishment of old buildings through the £55 billion scheme.

The chief executive of schools capital projects delivery body Partnerships for Schools said refurbishment work should not be overlooked in favour of new build.

The BSF programme aims to rebuild or refurbish every state secondary school in England by 2023.

So far there have been a larger proportion of new buildings, but councils have begun to signal a switch towards refurbishment projects. It is expected that this will continue as the post-election government works to slash the national debt.

Mr Byles said: “Refurbishment need not be seen as the poor relation of new build. We are passionate about making best use of existing buildings and sustainable refurbishment projects – and indeed over 50 per cent of schools planned will be refurbished.

“There are already some great examples of cherished local landmarks being given a new lease of life through BSF investment, and this new publication should encourage many more.”

English Heritage called on those who make decisions about the future of an existing school to:

  • consider sustainability and intrinsic architectural and historic interest in deciding about the future maintenance and use of the school building;
  • carefully consider the potential of the existing school building to be upgraded and re-used, and that such consideration should take place from a very early stage in the process;
  • demand higher quality design from architects that can make skilful adaptations to the existing structure;
  • recognise that older school buildings need not be energy inefficient. A recent research test commissioned by English Heritage showed that even simple repair and basic improvements will bring significant reduction of draughts and heat loss, and that using a combination of these methods will upgrade most original sash windows to meet building regulations.