The Department for Education has set up a new public property company with a £2bn budget, which will purchase and develop sites to help create 500 new free schools in England.

LocatED Acton

A LocatED project at the former Acton College campus

LocatED has been established to acquire land and buildings across the country to help the government build 500 new free schools by 2020 and create 600,000 new school places by 2021.

LocatED will act on behalf of the government to secure the right sites, at the right price to ensure hundreds more free schools can open. The majority of free schools opened so far have been in areas such as London where a shortage of school places has been identified.

Schools systems minister Lord Nash said: “We need to secure hundreds of new free schools in order to keep pace in creating 600,000 new school places by 2021. LocatED has the skills and expertise to find and secure land and buildings to ensure our free schools ambition becomes a reality.

“We understand the scale of the challenge and the property landscape. LocatED has the expertise and will operate at pace to negotiate with multiple partners across the private and public sector. We work directly with landowners, agents and developers to secure sites for new free schools, whilst ensuring the best value for the taxpayer.”

LocatED has individual acquisition budgets to spend on sites from 10,000 to 175,000 sq ft, and its £2bn budget could make it one of the largest landowners in the UK.

The board members of LocatED are:

  • Lara Newman, chief executive of LocatED – previously a board director at development and property consulting company Cleanslate
  • Michael Strong, board chairman - previously chief executive and then chairman of CBRE
  • Phil Ellis – previously client portfolio director at Aviva Investors
  • Jayne Maclennan – group director of Property FirstGroup
  • Julian Rudd-Jones – managing director of Kajima Partnerships and Kajima Properties
  • Caroline Tolhurst – executive career as a chartered surveyor, compliance officer and chartered secretary, as well as 10 years as company secretary to Grosvenor