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News archive - May/June 2019

Empty school buildings need looking after before disposal, says property expert

Disused educational buildings are playing an important role in offering housing solutions in the UK’s major towns and cities says Rogier Donkersloot, Managing Director at DEX Property Management.

A report from 2018 by the Education Authority marked 27 schools for potential closure due to ‘sustainability’ issues for the period of 2018-2019. Donkersloot said: “ That’s a lot of empty building floor space across the country that could be utilised for housing. I believe property guardianship is a solution that makes economic and social sense. It’s an option that benefits both the property owner and those in need of affordable accommodation.”

Empty schools or university buildings following closures or awaiting refurbishments are susceptible to break-ins, structural damage and squatting. There is also the issue of metal theft and asset stripping, as well as burst pipes in the winter. Donkershoot says pProperty guardians can help to mitigate building damage and ensure a steady stream of people are seen entering and leaving the property.

“There are around 32,000 schools in the UK, and schools are often sold or disposed of as sites are moved to more modern/fit for purpose sites. In this case guardians provide a few added benefits. These include keeping the property in good condition and stopping dilapidation – which can help facilitate a faster sale if the property is to be sold. They also offer access to the property throughout the selling process or planning/development.”

Donkershoot added: “In 2011, it was estimated there were 20,000 squatters in the UK, but eight years on it is likely this figure has risen significantly. Large public buildings are often attractive to squatters who may view schools as an easy prospect due to lack of occupancy.”