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 direct action / protest – liberate a space occupy / squat? Work with developers/the council? Work within existing social spaces? Rent? Aim to set up a coop or a Community Land Trust. Work towards buying a property for long term community use?

4.1 Get a map of your town and cycle around and map the empty buildings.

4.2 Contact the council 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 credit or 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 them after the letter to follow up and arrange a meeting, bring your project proposal brief. 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 needs expanded- landlord generally responsible for roof and walls and gets buildings insurance to cover this, CEC responsible for internal. However, do schedule of works inventory (what needs fixing) of space before you take it on, and take photos and get property owner to agree a schedule of works that they will pay for before and get done 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, conferences and fundraising events. Also ask for management liability insurance for a small extra cost it covers the directors.

NB The property owner is responsible for the building insurance .

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

    • Charity is willing to discuss helping  to gain the 80% mandatory rates relief – if certain agreements are in place. But it’s also good for each local CEC to have its own not for profit legal entity, to help negotiate and sign a 1-5 year meanwhile lease.
    •  for further info and advice from the  Meanwhile Foundation.
  • How to set up not for profit organisation

Best guides to legal structure options: Do-ocracy Handbook