Pilot programme to be launched to help third sector organisations use short-term leases in shops

A scheme to help charities take advantage of shops left empty by the recession is to be piloted by community interest company Meanwhile Space

A community interest company is launching a series of pilot projects to help third sector organisations take short-term leases on empty shops.

Emily Miller, a director of Meanwhile Space CIC, said her organisation was helping more than 150 organisations to occupy empty premises in more than 50 locations.

The initiative is being backed by the Development Trusts Association and the Communities and Local Government department.

"We're exploring and developing the idea at the moment," said Miller. "We're developing a series of tools, including a matrix that explains short-term leases and the rebates and exemptions charities are entitled to, and a how-to guide.

"We're also running a forum for other organisations that are already carrying out this kind of work."

The company hopes to obtain CLG funding to carry out more support and research work, including more detailed support for between five and 10 pilot projects.

The CLG announced earlier this year when it launched its Looking After our Town Centres initiative that it wanted to encourage the use of empty town centre properties by charities. It has come up with ways to support this, such as planning waivers and interim-use leases.

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