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Gang of three to help oversee DSS property development

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One of the UK's largest property portfolios, worth £400 million, is to be carved up between a handful of architecture firms to oversee its development.

Hasler Farthing and Baxter Clark & Paul, BA Architecture, and Charter Partnership will act as clients for the Department of Social Security, which last year privatised its 700-building estate, and will provide consultancy and advisory services to the department. Partnership Property Management, a consortium led by US investment bank Goldman Sachs, will handle the DSS's needs, with the architects looking at PPM's contract management and specifications, standards and design.

The practices will sit on a new DSS national panel, and from next April each one will be responsible for one of three regions - Hasler Farthing and Baxter Clark & Paul for Northern England and Scotland, BA Architecture for the Midlands and Charter Partnership for the South.

'The department wanted to be out of the property business, more flexibility and to cut costs, ' said John Farthing, one of the architects. 'We will negotiate on behalf of the department to make sure PPM provides suitable designs at reasonable costs. There will also be some design work.'

Practices had to go through a two-stage competition to win the work.

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