RAAC report estimates nearly 600 schools at risk of collapse

Schools and Trusts are on high alert today as a government report shows that approximately 38% of all schools in England are at risk of collapse due to inefficient building materials.

The National Audit Office and Department for Education (DfE) have concluded that hundreds of schools across the country are running on borrowed time as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete has been identified as a major component in the construction of these properties.

What is Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete?

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, or RAAC, was a popular material for construction from the 1950s until the mid-1990s, due to its cheap manufacture and abundant accessibility. However, this is now proving to have been a costly mistake as schools are being shut down due to their lifespan diminishing quickly and the increasing risk of building collapse or failure causing death or serious injury.

The DfE is estimating that over a third of school buildings are past their lifespan, with the NAO calculating that 700,000 children are being taught in schools that require major rebuilding or refurbishment, due to RAAC or other construction failures like asbestos use and ACM.

As we read more of the report, it is evident that changes must be made soon – both in the short-term and strategically. With a cross-party agreement that we should all act now, but how do we do so in such an economically challenging time?

More needs to be done

Gary Benn, director of our Cambridge office, believes that there needs to be more action for all constructions issues – not just RAAC.

Condition Improvement Funding is useful but isn’t enough, and the PSDS isn’t targeted at the right buildings in our school stock.

Different mechanisms need to be designed, with DESNZ and the DfE collaborating more to create a more cohesive strategy with Trusts.”

What should we do

Before anything, estates managers should contact a professional as soon as possible if they believe their estate to be affected. Our RICS-qualified surveyors can assure you on whether your buildings are at risk of a large range of building or construction defect.

All public buildings are to be checked, as part of a separate government enquiry. The estate itself is worth £158 billion and includes schools and Academies. Find out whether you are part of that estate, and make sure to look into how the Government can help to support you both financially and logistically during this scheme.

Eddisons has supported hundreds of clients in issues similar to this, and currently works with dozens of Academies and Trusts to improve their properties and estates strategies with established knowledge and innovative methodologies.

For more information on how you can protect your buildings and the people who work and learn there, read our previous blog, or get in touch now.

The Central London team plays sous chef to Enfield’s Cooking Champions

Reece Andrade, in a white Patagonia t-shirt, and Andrew Glover, in a pink polo shirt, bag up rocket for cookery classes at the Cooking Champions Community Kitchen
Reece Andrade and Andrew Glover volunteering at Cooking Champions

We were delighted to lend a helping hand to the brilliant Cooking Champions charity last week as part of our ongoing relationship with Enfield Council.

Our Central London team – Andrew Glover, Peter Wiggins, Rodney Unsworth and Reece Andrade – rolled up their sleeves on Tuesday for an experience they would not forget in a hurry.

Andrew chose to volunteer at Cooking Champions as he recognised that the charity was doing a job unlike no other in the North London borough. Primarily a foodbank, the charity also supports vulnerable people in providing education and training – using the power of food to unite!

A key decider for Andrew and the team to volunteer at Cooking Champions was the belief that this service was providing a great relief to others, and something that would be sorely missed in its absence.

“They’ve got some really good people around them… what really surprised me was how much they have achieved with the small amount of help they have had.” – Andrew Glover, Director, Central London

Our team has committed to a series of shifts involving unloading donations, packing food parcels for delivery, preparing produce for the cooking classes, and picking up food donations from fellow food charity, the Felix Project.

Additionally, Eddisons has also been able to support Cooking Champions in finding contractors to complete odd jobs around St Matthew’s Church, where they are based, for no charge. Selfless tasks like this help charities like Cooking Champions grow and glow, and we’re so thankful to the handymen, investors, and volunteers who we have approached for extra help.

Peter Wiggins, wearing a blue shirt and blue denim jeans, and Rodney Unsworth, wearing a turquoise t-shirt and black trousers, stand in front of the red sign for Cooking Champions' community kitchen
Peter Wiggins, left, and Rodney Unsworth at Cooking Champions Community Kitchen in Enfield


Along with helping with cost of buying produce for the foodbank, Eddisons is also putting money towards extending their services that are used by so many. Classes for men over 50, ‘open kitchen’ opportunities for unemployed people to use Cooking Champions’ facilities, free hot meals and food parcel outreach are just some of the options offered to the Enfield community.

Cooking Champions receives lots of food donations from local businesses and residents and are also funded by a catering company which runs alongside the charity whose profits go directly to operating and managing the enterprise. Cooking Champions has something going on almost every day and long may it continue.

Clare Donovan, founder of Cooking Champions, comments:

“We are so grateful for the support Eddisons has given us, it has already made a big difference.

“Our charity started as an emergency response to COVID, unfortunately the need for our services is greater than ever. The simple, yet appalling, fact is that people cannot afford to feed their families during this cost of living crisis. It is commonly reported by our recipients that they skip meals. This obviously has huge implications for their physical and mental health.

“We are working hard to provide multiple strategies to address the short term emergency situation (our food bank and free community meals) but also the longer term which includes cooking lessons and healthy eating workshops. Volunteering to support any of these projects really does improve the quality of people’s lives.”

Thank you to Clare Donovan and the team for welcoming us into your amazing space!

Latest lettings give Corby outlets to local businesses

Eddisons’ commercial agency office in Kettering has confirmed that it has secured two new retail occupiers, on new leases, for units in an established shopping district in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Acting on behalf of the landlord at Charter Court in the Oakley Vale District Centre in Corby, Eddisons has let Unit 14 and Unit 12 – both 700 sq ft retail premises – to Tanners Lane, a tanning salon, and Butterwick Bakery who bake and sell premium confectionery and sweet treats.

Tanners Lane has its original salon in Kettering and its new Charter Court premises – which will trade as ‘Tanners Lane Corby’ – gives the business a second Northamptonshire location.

Tanners Lane Corby is due to open in time for the high summer season, in 5 to 6 weeks, following a full salon fit out of the unit.

Butterwick Bakery is already open for business at its new Charter Court shop which chalks-up the eighth retail outlet in the East Midlands – including another Corby location on Rockingham Road – for this family-owned bakery business.

The bakery business was established in 2017 and was originally a home-kitchen based operation. But such has been the growth of the business since the pandemic, that it now employs over 60 members of staff across its regional chain of outlets which are all supplied by freshly baked goods from its large bakery in Corby.

Amanda Lawrence, Agency Surveyor at Eddisons, negotiated the leases for the two units and is now instructed to let two further units at Charter Court where the current occupier will be vacating.

Speaking about the recent lettings success at Charter Court, Amanda said, “The Oakley Vale District Centre is a well-established trading location that has a number of national and independent traders and service providers.

It has solid footfall in attracting loyal local shoppers, as well as passing visitors to the area.

“To see the latest units we’ve let being occupied by growing local business is indicative of the ongoing success of retailers whose offer and in-person experience cannot be replicated online.”

For more information about the forthcoming units to let at Charter Court or the availability of retail units in & around Corby, Kettering & Northampton, contact Amanda Lawrence at Eddisons, tel: 01536 483400, [email protected] or through eddisons.com.

Eddisons insight invited on Greater Peterborough Business Survey

Eddisons PeterboroughEddisons’ Peterborough property insight has been called upon by regional business insiders who invited the firm’s Julian Welch for input and commentary on the 10th Annual Greater Peterborough Business Survey.

The annual survey is organised by the local office of top ten accountancy firm Azets in association with Opportunity Peterborough.

The survey canvasses the opinions and experiences of a cross section of companies operational in the Greater Peterborough Area about trading conditions in the previous twelve months.

Eddisons’ Director Julian Welch is a longstanding member of an expert panel of local business professionals who offer sector-specific insights once the surveys responses are collated and summarised.

The expert insights cover a range of professional business disciplines including recruitment, skills, corporate finance and commercial property.

In the latest survey, Julian Welch offers commentary on the ongoing resilience of Greater Peterborough’s industrial & manufacturing sectors, the rapidly changing picture of the retail and leisure markets in the city centre and wider region, as well as the impact of hybrid working on offices and workspaces.

Speaking about the latest Greater Peterborough Business Survey, Julian Welch said, “Our companies are adjusting fairly well to the financial and operational shocks of the past 12 months.

“There are echoes of the 2021 survey, where we reported that local companies were facing the twin pressures of the Covid-pandemic and the trading realities of the Brexit settlement with fortitude.

“Peterborough is one of these 60-minute hotpots from London that commercial – and residential – property insiders in the city have been plugging for years.

“The emerging post-pandemic domestic & business property scenario sees the area well-placed to capitalise on the new thinking about working and living.”

Mark Jackson, Partner at Top 10 accountancy firm Azets’ Peterborough, has urged businesses to take note of the report’s findings.

Speaking on its publication, he said, “The survey outlines many of the challenges, but also opportunities faced by businesses.

We hope that the findings stimulate debate within businesses and between business leaders, and that we learn from each other to make our own organisations as successful as possible.”

For more insight into Peterborough’s knowledge, get in touch with the team.

New-build units are a ‘signage’ of the times at Compass Point in St Ives

The Huntingdon agency of Eddisons points to the take-up of a scheme of four new-build workshop units with offices in the market town of St Ives as indicative of demand for high quality business premises in this part of Cambridgeshire.

The four units – two of 1,657 sq ft and two of 2,809 sq ft – are the first of a two phase development at Meridian Court at Compass Point, an established commercial location in the Cambridgeshire market town.

Launched at the end of last year by Eddisons, who was the sole agent under instruction, as being available for occupation in spring this year, two units have been sold to owner-occupiers, one unit to a private investor (who then instructed Eddisons on the subsequent successful letting) and the last of the units is currently under offer to another private investor.

One of the owner-occupiers, The Cambridge Sign Company, is now trading from its new base at Unit 2 Meridian Court, following a move from smaller premise in the nearby village of Somersham.

The Cambridge Sign Company is an award-winning business specialising in all aspects of commercial building, vehicle and promotional signage and has a client base split evenly between the local eastern region and the rest of the UK.

Its ninth year of trading sees the company with a current headcount of seven. And with plans for further recruitment and investment in new equipment to meet an increased customer base, Director Nick Dowell saw the need to move to larger, purpose-built commercial premises.

He explains, “The upscaling of our business in the past few years and our plans for future growth instigated a search for new premises.

“We needed premises in a location that would not only be an acceptable commute for our employees through good local road access, but that would also give excellent onward road access to all points across the region and the rest of the country.

“Meridian Court at Compass Point ticked these boxes for us, as well as offering quality new-build premises with parking – and all not too far from the company’s original home-base.”

Eddisons’ agency team in Huntingdon is anticipating keen interest in the next phase of Meridian Court which is due to launch later this year.

For information about the business units at the forthcoming phase of Meridian Court, Compass Point, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, contact Matthew Hunt at the Huntingdon office of Eddisons, tel: 01480 571578, [email protected] or through eddisons.com.

Immanuel College gains funding with Eddisons

Eddisons is delighted to have assisted Immanuel College in a successful bid to the Post 16 Capacity Fund.

As part of the Bradford Diocesan Academies, the College is one of just 42 institutions across the country to secure this award to improve their higher education offering with the Fund.

We were proud to be chosen to assist Immanuel College in applying for and using this money to create a dedicated sixth form block, as well as supporting the whole sixth form provision at the College.

Eddisons was chosen to act as ‘trusted technical advisors’ to the College once they were invited to apply for funding as an eligible institution.


A conceptual design of the newly-created sixth form block for Immanuel College
Conceptual designs from Eddisons’ qualified team show what Immanuel College’s dedicated Sixth Form block will look like. 


What are the objectives of the Post 16 Capacity Fund?

  • To create additional capacity in 16-19 school providers where a demographic increase in learners is predicted.
  • To ensure that the college’s provision meets the needs of the local and national skills requirements as well as the actual learner demand.
  • To deliver the project in the most efficient and sustainable way: to ensure value for money in the investment of public funds as well as support the Government in achieving their Net Zero goals by 2050.

Where did Eddisons come in?

Immanuel College and Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust selected Eddisons to provide advice on the College’s existing capacity, conduct feasibility studies and create concept designs, designed to fulfil the need for additional space. We then assisted with pre-planning and wrote the Post 16 Capacity Fund application on behalf of the Trust.

On top of this preliminary work, we have been appointed as Contract Administrator, Principal Designer and Architect/Designer for the duration of the works. We anticipate that the delivery of this ambitious project will allow for occupancy in late 2024.

Both Immanuel College and Eddisons are delighted with this funding, and look forward to advancing their teaching and learning environment for many years to come.

Our famous five gear up for regional business games

Five Eddisons colleagues from the Kettering & Northampton offices are gearing up for second annual HCR Hewitsons Business Games taking place later this month.

Described by the organisers, HCR Hewitsons & Northampton Sport as a ‘friendly competition’, colleagues across building consultancy, agency and property management will come together to pit their prowess against other East Midlands business professionals at the University of Northampton’s
Waterside Campus on 22 June.

While the Business Games centre on physical activity in the pursuit of a trophy, the focus is on fun over the five games which include Dodgeball, Hobby Horse Show Jumping & New Age Curling to name but three.

Team Eddisons will run out under the captaincy of Tom Freer, Director, Property Management, who, having put the team together in April, is the team’s mentor & motivator.

The other team members are Nick Galloway, Will Howells, James Barker, and Gilbert Harvey. Describing the team as a ‘famous five mix of youth & experience’, Tom is reluctant to admit which member will be his ‘man of the match’.

He said, “We’re set to enjoy ourselves with 20 teams of peer professionals in the region and, as the saying goes, it is more important to take part than to win.

“However, in games as in business, at the end of the day, Team Eddisons expects to show its competitive edge – and not just in the refreshments round at the post-Games award ceremony.”

The HCR Hewitsons Business Games will take place at the University of Northampton’s Waterside Campus on Thursday 22 June 2023.

Leading property auctioneers merge with combined auctions

Two of the north’s largest property auction houses, North-West based Pugh and South Yorkshire based Mark Jenkinson, are combining their online property auction listings from this month.

Mark Jenkinson, which has been based in Sheffield for over 125 years, was acquired by Eddisons earlier this year, joining Pugh & Co which was bought by Eddisons in 2016. Between them the two firms have sold a wide range of commercial, residential and land assets worth £94m in the last year.

Combining the lots of both auction houses will provide a more extensive list of investment opportunities across the regions.

Pugh managing director Paul Thompson said: “This is an exciting development for our business and reinforces our strength and leading position in the northern property auction market. Combining the two very capable teams ensures we continue to deliver a high performing service to our selling and buying customers.”

Mark Jenkinson senior partner, Adrian Little, added: “Working with Pugh, as part of Eddisons, gives us a superb geographic reach, unrivalled market insight and a vast network of buyers and sellers.

“The personalised customer service our clients have always enjoyed will be backed by cutting-edge technology and strategic marketing support.”

The first combined online auction, featuring over 70 properties, includes a former chapel in Poulton Le Fylde amongst a number of city centre properties in Sheffield. The auction will be held on 21 June.

If you have property or land to sell and want to include them in the upcoming auction or a future one, click here to request a FREE auction appraisal.

Eddisons secures over £20m for school building improvement projects

Millthorpe School Eddisons

Eddisons secures over £20m for school building improvement projects

We are delighted to announce we’ve secured more than £20m of funding to improve buildings at schools across the UK in the latest round of the Government’s Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).

Our education sector specialist team has raised more than £200m in school funding over recent years and the latest round of secured funding includes £4m for school building projects in Yorkshire, £1.6m for heating upgrade projects in Gosport and Southampton and £650,000 for fire safety works at Corley Academy SEN school in Coventry.

Ian Harrington, head of our specialist education team, said: “This is another year of fantastic results for both our clients and the team. However, the success also highlights once again the fact that education is one of the more poorly funded sectors, with 2,000 projects unsuccessful in their bids in this round of funding alone.

“We will continue to work with those schools and academies that were unsuccessful, to offer guidance on future bids, as well as offering advice on other funding opportunities that are available. With the total CIF pot remaining unchanged on last year, despite base rate inflation being at 11% and construction inflation nearer 30%, it was one the most fiercely competitive rounds of funding we’ve experienced.”

The CIF programme is an annual round of bidding under which academy schools and colleges can apply for funding for the upkeep and improvement of their buildings and to fund expansion projects for schools that have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. In total, the Department for Education received funding requests for over 3,000 projects this year, with 1,033 projects across 859 academies being allocated a share of the £456m.

Ian added: “The CIF bidding procedure is highly complex and Eddisons’ education team   have built up huge knowledge and experience over the years to help deliver successful bids and projects that make a real difference to schools and to the people who study and work in them.

“Every year the process of submitting a successful CIF bid becomes ever more competitive and we are really pleased to say that we have maintained our position as a key adviser to the education sector, with an excellent success rate for our bids.”

The successful projects will all get underway shortly and will be project managed by Eddisons.

If your project was not successful we offer a free audit of your bid so you can apply the insights in any future applications, please click here to find out more.

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Falling in to back Armed Forces Day in Peterborough

Eddisons is backing Peterborough Armed Forces Day, that is returning to the city on Saturday 24 June.

Organised by the City Council and supported by the main sponsor Barnack Estates UK Ltd, it’s a day for the city to come together to support and thank those presently serving, as well as those who have served in the armed forces, their families & today’s reservists and cadets.

Come along to Cathedral Square on Saturday 24 June to commemorate, celebrate & support and enjoy the displays & live entertainment on the Eddisons Stage.

More information about the day’s events running from 10am to 4.30pm can be found here.