“ Space the Final Frontier”

Now that you’ve established your group and your project brief outline – mission statement, you can make decisions about how you want to go about acquiring a space. Do you want to take immediate action? Work with developers/ the council? A friendly land owner, or work within existing social spaces? There are sometimes spaces, or underused projects that already exist in your town that would be happy to share space,an office or meeting room, while your CEC group begins to grow,before finding a premises. For example Lewes CEC was offered space in an art group’s old bus station  project before being given a council owned shop to work with the local Covid Mutual Aid volunteers. You could  aim to set up a coop or a Community Land Trust? Work towards buying a property for long term community use? There are a number of routes.

4.1 Get a map of your town and cycle around and map the empty buildings or plots of vacant land. This website is an invaluable mapping tool  Land explorer is an invaluable tool helping to quickly research what land can be used in an area for projects that create community

4.2 Contact the council ( estates or property manager ) and ask for their voids ( empty ) list and commercial property for rent list.

4.3 Find the owners of the property via The Land Registry records.You can get the details for a particular place by entering the POSTCODE at It costs £3 per place (with a debit card)

To find out the the Valuation of the Business rates for a potential building

4.4 How will you negotiate with the owners? 

Create a negotiation / proposal /project outline letter. Ring  after the letter to follow up and arrange a meeting, bring your project proposal brief. (A short guide to negotiating with property developers and creating a meanwhile lease will be provided by CEC UK Network here soon)

See if your group has any connections to property / landowners / developers / council – personal connections and building relationships lead to finding spaces faster than a cold call / letter.

INSURANCE INFO – The landlord is generally responsible for the roof and walls and gets buildings insurance to cover this, CEC responsible for internal repairs and minor maintenance. However, do get a schedule of  works ( inventory of what needs fixing) in the   space before you take it on, take detailed photos and get the property owner to agree to the  schedule of works that they will pay for before you take possession. Your CEC group gets Public Liability insurance (with management liability insurance included). 

 How to get public liability insurance – describe the size of the space and a short list of activities that you will carry out in the space. Eg talks, workshops, art exhibitions,cafe,cinema conferences and fundraising events. Also ask for management liability insurance for a small extra cost it covers the directors of the CEC legal entity.

 NB The property owner is responsible for the building insurance NOT the CEC 

We have found these companies helpful. – better on larger premises

  • How to set up not for profit organisation