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Welcome for 'last' BSF cash injection

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Architects are in line for a windfall of work following the government’s decision to pump a further £420 million into the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

The six authorities to begin a new wave of rebuilds and refurbishments on their secondary schools are: Buckinghamshire (initially worth £80 million); Cornwall (£69 million); Gateshead (£80 million); Lincolnshire (£70 million); Oxfordshire (£62 million); and Sutton (£56 million).

The announcement means the ‘lucky half dozen’ can start detailed planning to fast-track their most urgent building projects – far earlier than originally thought – with capital investment due to be released from 2012/13.

Aedas director Anthony Langan said: ‘This continued investment commitment is good news for students, parents and local communities, but it is equally good news for the wider construction industry, which is dependent upon public investment to maintain skills in our industry through difficult economic times.’

However, the six local authorities named are likely to be the last to receive BSF cash before the upcoming general election, and uncertainty remains about the long-term future of the £55 billion programme.

The news comes just a fortnight after the government’s design watchdog CABE warned education spending cuts on schools would be unfair and come at completely the wrong time.

Matt Bell, director of education and external affairs at CABE, said: ‘At last BSF is about to hit its stride. Ironically, just as the programme is finding its feet, the budget might go through the floor.’

Nevertheless, Partnerships for Schools chief executive Tim Byles said: ‘With over two-thirds of all local authorities engaged in BSF, we look forward to working with the latest cohort of local authorities to help deliver schools fit for the 21st century.’

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