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News - 30 January 2013

Planning changes could make it easier for Free Schools to open.

The government has confirmed that changes to planning rules in England will make it easier for free schools to open in buildings that have not yet been approved for "change of use" by the local council.

From this summer, the new state-funded independent schools will be able to operate in buildings such as offices, hotels and shops for a year without having permission to change their use.

The changes have been in the pipeline since the launch of the free-school programme after the general election of 2010.

Free schools are funded by central government but can be set up by various groups, including charities, parents and businesses, where they can show a need for a new school.
They cannot be run for profit.

There are about 80 free schools open in England now, with another 100 planned to open in September.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said of the proposed changes:
"Enabling free schools to move into their preferred site more quickly will mean they can concentrate on raising standards and providing parents with an excellent school place for their child."

New Schools Network director Natalie Evans said:
"Local councillors and planners who wish to deny parents choice in the education of their children will no longer be able to hide behind the fig leaf of preventative planning regulations in their attempt to block new schools."

Peter Ham    Auditor and Head of Schools and Charities at ABDS comments:
“The programme for Free Schools was being held back because groups coming forward to set up free schools could not find suitable premises where there was permission to have a school.”

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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