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Childcare & Education

Buyer demand for SEND businesses and development opportunities continues to exceed supply

Following the publication of our mid-year review report in July, which analysed the SEND business property market in the first half of 2023, Courteney Donaldson MRICS, Managing Director – Childcare & Education at Christie & Co, provides an update on this specialist market and a look ahead at what we can expect as we move toward autumn/winter 2023.

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Courteney Donaldson

Courteney Donaldson

Managing Director - Childcare & Education


Image: Former Pestalozzi International Village in East Sussex

Market Overview

Despite the increased cost of capital, the specialist education market has remained buoyant so far this year, with a wide range of well-funded acquirers seeking both operational day and residential schools alongside vacant assets awarding new business development potential.

Demand for existing operational businesses, especially, remains incredibly strong, however, akin to 2022, there continues to be a shortage in the supply of specialist education businesses being brought to the market, despite the heady prices on offer, as many SEND business owners, instead of contemplating a sale, are striving to increase capacity within these existing settings in order to meet increased demand.

This dearth in supply and rise in demand for services has also led to a significant increase in the level of interest and number of offers received on alternative properties suitable for new organic SEND business development opportunities.

Case study - Pestalozzi International Village

In August, we completed the sale of the 138-acre former Pestalozzi International Village in East Sussex - a children’s educational and residential establishment that attracted children from around the world for over 60 years, until it was acquired by PGL Travel Limited in 2019.

Following a plethora of enquiries from a range of interested parties, including SEND education and residential providers, and mainstream global education groups – resulting in a highly competitive bidding process – the site sold to Christian community group, Darvell Bruderhof, which also owns the education furniture brand, Community Playthings.

The Darvell community plans to restore the educational use to Pestalozzi, sensitively developing the site and utilising the existing planning consent to transform the setting into a senior school for children aged 14-18 years, both from the community and the wider area.

Outlook for the remainder of the year

Despite prevailing headwinds associated with cost pressures and workforce, as being experienced by businesses generally, the outlook for the remainder of the year, and indeed looking towards 2024, appears positive. We expect buyer demand to prevail, for both established businesses and development prospects alike.

For more on the SEND market in the UK, contact Courteney Donaldson: / 07831 099 985

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