Have a great idea, but don’t have a place or space to house it? Here are some suggestions on how to get started
Walk around your neighbourhood looking for spaces that aren’t being used. Think creatively – are there buildings or spaces that don’t have commercial value but could be perfect for a community space?
Talk to local estate agents, who might be able to help with temporary ‘meanwhile’ uses of commercial space at low cost.
You can look up who owns any land or building on www.landregistry.gov.uk (for a small fee)
Make sure your space is suitable for what you want to use it for
Make a checklist of essential elements you need for your project. For example, size, delivery access, character.
Look up local architects, they’re often very familiar with local spaces and potential opportunities. They may be able to help you understand whether there might be practical problems with a site or building that you have not spotted.
Secure your space
When you find out who owns the space, contact the owner, stating what you want to use the land or building for. It will help if you already have an outline project plan, to show that you are serious and realistic.
You don’t necessarily need to buy or rent the space. You can get a licence to use it – temporarily or permanently – which can be easier. Read our guide to permissions here.
Help on leases and licenses for community gardening and park projects can be found via the Community Land Advisory Service.
Try to get a letter of agreement from the owner before you pitch your project to funders.
For a bigger project, get a ‘Heads of Terms’ agreed – you will need a solicitor to help you with this. This will set out the terms for you using the site, and when you get your funding confirmed you can take this forward to a full contract.
For more considerations when planning your community project, download the Mayor of London’s Community Projects Handbook as part of Crowdfund London.