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No buyers for new Croft-type schools
11:10am Tuesday 10th September 2013 in News
A DESIGN for new schools drawn up by Swindon Council has not attracted any orders despite almost £10,000 of taxpayers’ cash being ploughed into the project.
The modular concept, entitled Class Solutions, has been marketed to local authorities across the UK after forming the basis for the Croft School in Old Town.
The Adver revealed in February 2012 how the council spent £9,512 on marketing materials, including a promotional DVD and a model.
But no orders have been received to date since the project’s inception in 2011, according to a Freedom of Information Act request.
However the local authority said in its reply that interest had been received after an independent report on the school capital system in April 2011.
The council stated: “The publishing of the James Report and invitations to several national conferences on school design has triggered some interest from individuals from organisations who attended the conference.”
The primary school opened in September after a prolonged planning battle with residents.
Campaigners claimed the buildings were used to showcase Class Solutions.
But proponents say the design, which meant the school was cheaper and quicker to assemble than by using conventional methods, could be a cheap way for the Government to build hundreds of new schools.
Kareen Boyd, who opposed the Croft, reasserted her claim that residents were kept in the dark about Class Solutions during the row over access, traffic and demand for places.
She said: “There had been no mention of Class Solutions or its years and costs of research and development or that it already had a £10,000 marketing package based on the Croft location.
“Neither were we told that this had already been presented by the council to the UK Schools Building Procurement Forum well in advance of the planning committee.“ Mrs Boyd, of Hesketh Crescent, suggested other local authorities had drawn their own conclusions.
She said: “Prospective customers can now see the prototype in reality and compare the actual design and costs in the open market against companies with proven track records.”
The council has said it will provide designs and drawings for other town halls who wish to use the concept, which has been dubbed the “school in a box”. A spokesman said: “By any rational and objective measure, the Croft School design has been a major success.
"It cost £1.5million less to build than the three previous conventionally-built schools in Swindon, and is popular with pupils, parents and teachers.
“Taken in that context, the amount spent on promotional materials, which have been useful in sending to people and organisations who have subsequently expressed an interest in the design, is very small.
"Overall, it has saved the public a large amount of money.
“The concept will be used again for future new schools in Swindon.”
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