Given that it's difficult to get a dirty, derelict space rented, and that these make the surrounding commercial area look less attractive for development, I was wondering if existed anything like a service that cleaned, designed and decorated space for a modest fee and the cost of materials? I'd think that might be valuable for landlords and for people wanting to host pop-ups both. Would there be any market for that kind of thing?
There isn't anything like this that exists at the moment although it is something we have thought about before in terms of a Meanwhile Squad that could tackle spaces like these but it's fallen off the radar a bit.
When we take on spaces we use local contractors for major works like electrics, plumbing etc but then put out a cal to those interested in using the space to roll up their sleeves and volunteer their time to spruce the place up. We've done this so far in Hastings, Luton, Whitechapel (London), Exmouth Market (London) and Finchley Road (London) and it's woked so well in engaging people with the project and helping them to appreciate the challenges of pop up.
You might also want to try contacting your local collage and seeing if they would like to offer their students on site experience. This can something be very expensive due to major red tape in terms of health and safety. It does however tick two boxes. Getting training professionals to decorate your space and offering on the job experience making training much more satisfying to those learning.
Where a bouts are you based as we might know people in your area who could help?
Here are some pictures of the spaces we used volunteers.
Contacting art students could indeed be a good idea, thanks! We have a few artists interested already, but as you say, the experience might be good for the students.
I'm concerned about the health and safety red tape--for a space owned by a landlord, if we were leaving electrics and plumbing be for the moment, and focusing on making the space clean and aesthetically presentable for them or a pop-up, perhaps for a small fee, perhaps with some grant money (assuming the electricity and plumbing for the places we'll be working with is still more or less functional), would we have to follow any specific health and safety protocol? Would involving the students invoke that? I assume this sort of depends on this next bit--
We're around Camberwell Green, where there are a TON of empty storefronts, though we're also interested in Southwark/ SE London generally. Our major issue at the moment is finding who within the council we should talk to to figure out whether this is best formulated as a small business, an independent contractor, a charity, a part of the council, or something else, and what, if any, funding it might be available for the purpose. When we spoke to Southwark's lettings department we got told they didn't have many properties on the street we lived on (not really an answer to our question), told about how to look up who owns empty properties (which we knew how to do, and didn't want to pay to do at this stage) and some links about starting a business, which--not helpful until we can have a conversation with someone as to whether that's the best way of going about this.
Usually it will be in the landlords interest to make sure the electrics and plumbing in their property is sound before letting anyone in to use the space regardless of you being a paying tenant or not. If you suspect there is a problem with the electrics or safety of the building I would think seriously if this is the right space for you.
If you decide it is then you could use the Meanwhile Space Health and Safety document to help you access the space and put in place measures to make sure you have identified the risks. We as a rule make sure that the public entering our spaces appreciate it's temporary nature, this can be done with signage and on your website. You must also make sure that you have public liability insurance for the space. If artists are then coming in to use the space and run exhibitions they must also have public liability insurance and they can get that from AN Magazine for around £30 + VAT.
In regards to rates for the property this is where it can get really tricky. You need to be aware of what the rates for a property will be before you take the liability on. Make sure that it is affordable to your project just in case the Council don't grant you a discretionary discount.
As a charity you would be eligible for an 80% rate relief but it takes a long time to become a charity and is a very tough process. You really need to read up on all the alternatives and see which suits you group best. Think about the long term benefits of each not just the short term. Contact an organisation like Business Links who might be able to offer you better advice.
Another document that you might find handy is the Intermediary Hand Book.
Let us know how you get on!
Hi Erin. My company is Popupspace, a commercial property consultancy specialising in pop up. I think if designed correctly this kind of service would be very useful to some of my clients. I'm happy to have a chat and give you some thoughts on what you should include with such a service and how you'd market it to both property owners and occupiers; too much to go into here! I'm on 01273 464179.