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Building consultancy EC Harris has produced a report on the potential for empty shops to adapted as Free Schools. They estimate that adapting a "retail shell" could be 36% cheaper than building a school from scratch.

Simon Lucas, Head of Education at EC Harris says:

“The discussion around “free” schools has highlighted the possibility that former shops and offices could be converted into schools; however we’re able to take the debate further and provide evidence that there are significant savings and efficiencies to be had in adopting new and radical models over the more conventional.”

 EC Harris’ Head of Retail, Catherine Tobiasinsky says:

“Approximately 1 in 8sqft of retail space is currently empty. We need to look at space we already have and how we can get the best from available assets.  In addition, Michael Gove has already recognised that the retailing industry has a track record improving capital efficiency by looking to retailer advisors, such as Sebastian James and Kevin Grace. There is plenty that PfS can learn from current retailer built asset practices to get more for less.”

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