Social investment firm teams up with Willmott Dixon to deliver 88 homes and school improvements

Cornerstone Assets, the social investment firm set up by former Partnerships for Schools boss Tim Byles, has agreed a £25m deal with a Hertfordshire school that will involve a major redevelopment of its facilities and provide 88 new homes.

The deal with Cheshunt School will see Cornerstone provide £25m of private investment to develop houses on part of the grounds, the sale of which will fund improvements to the school buildings. As a foundation school, Cheshunt owns its own land.

Subject to planning consent, work will begin in the spring and will be carried out by Cornerstone’s development partner Prime Place, Willmott Dixon’s residential arm.

Work at the school will include a new technology block, an improved sports field and changing facilities, a remodelled main classroom block and a new sports hall.

Byles said: “The redevelopment of Cheshunt exemplifies Cornerstone’s innovative approach of creating value through under-used local assets so that pressures in local services can be tackled head-on.”

Byles founded Cornerstone in 2011 as a means of using private investment to convert surplus publicly owned buildings to pay for improvements to services.

Byles added that the approach could help to alleviate the crisis in school places. “We know that public spending is tight and will be for some time. But councils needn’t have to wait for hand-outs from government to address this shortage; the Cheshunt scheme has focused on creating new facilities for existing students, but the same logic applies when extending oversubscribed schools, or even creating entirely new schools.”