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Former BSF tsar heads 60-project jackpot

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Tim Byles, former CEO of Partnerships for Schools (PfS) has selected three practices to work for his new social investment company, which aims to turn disused sites into public buildings for use by local authorities

Edward Cullinan, Penoyre & Prasad and LSI have been asked to ‘test concepts’ for Byles’ Cornerstone Assets, described as ‘a third party delivery vehicle for the public sector’.

Byles stepped down from PfS chief executive two weeks ago and all three firms worked for him while he headed the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) delivery body.

The new company will focus on a range of projects including community centres, residential homes, libraries and, interestingly, schools. Byles emphasised the company was ‘not about free schools, particularly’.

He said: ‘We’ve all learnt lessons from BSF. Architects will be directly engaged right from the start of projects.

‘The design challenge is to make surplus land into something that delivers what local authorities want and need.’

The company will deliver 60 projects, worth up to £300 million in total, over the next two years.

Byles said the these first architectural appointments were ‘not an exclusive arrangement’ and he would be looking to work with other outfits. He added: ‘I’m interested in working with architects and designers who are able to prove that intelligent design can make a difference to local community regeneration.’

Sunand Prasad of Penoyre & Prasad said: ‘It’s a company set up to develop sites that have otherwise not been able to find a market and develop them intelligently in a way any good developer would do. However, Cornerstone looks at the longer-term socially minded aspects as well.

‘The belief is that design can help to deliver commercial outcomes. Many of these are marginal sites that need innovative thinking.’

Robin Nicholson of Edward Cullinan added: ‘In principle it’s about delivering a lot more with a lot less. We’re poised and ready to go and quite excited about it.

‘There are a lot of people out there looking at public sector assets that are being underused and looking at what can be done with them.’


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