Meanwhile use of buildings
Commercial spaces can remain empty when one occupant leaves and another has yet to be found. These empty spaces can blight local areas, particularly in town and city centres, where vacant spaces such as shops can give a very bad impression. This can be a serious problem during recessions, when a number of properties in one area may remain empty.
The term ‘meanwhile use’ refers to the short-term use of temporarily empty buildings such as shops until they can be brought back into commercial use. It takes a potential problem and turns it into an opportunity and helps keep an area vibrant. The landlord will continue to look for a new commercial occupant for the space during the meanwhile use.
Meanwhile uses are generally for the benefit of the local community, for example; meeting spaces, informal training and learning spaces, temporary rehearsal spaces, pop-up shops and exhibitions and so on. They can offer a breeding ground for innovative ideas and empower the local community. They can last just a few days, or several years.
The agreement with the landlord might give the user responsibility for paying business rates and utilities costs but might not require payment of rent, service charges or building insurance. It might specify that the property can only be used for non-commercial purposes.
This can be to the benefit of the landlord who will no longer be liable for empty property business rates, may have lower security costs and so on. This means they may be better off, even if they do not charge rent.
The government has prepared a range of leases to encourage the temporary occupation of empty town centre retail premises by non-commercial occupiers. It has also relaxed controls of change of use class to make the permitted use of spaces more flexible.
In November 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that he wanted to ‘…help match-make entrepreneurs and community groups with local authorities and land-owners to find temporary uses for vacant buildings and land rather than let these sites go to waste.’
He suggested that meanwhile use was not fully exploited in the North of England and that it could provide invaluable space, ‘…transforming empty shells into dynamic hubs for business start ups or centres for the arts and creative industries.’
He proposed a Northern Futures initiative, creating a working group including representatives from local government, businesses and charities to investigate how more vacant buildings and land can be brought back into temporary use in the North. The working group will present their findings in January 2015. Ref Deputy Prime Minister plans to bring empty buildings back to life in the North 26 November 2014.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Brownfield land.
- Rent-free period.
- Security of tenure for commercial leases.
- Types of building.
- UandI Think event - Meanwhile Worthwhile Forever.
- Use class.
- Vacant possession.
 External references
- Gov.uk, Deputy PM brings buildings back to life with high street names in the north. 26 January 2015.
- Deputy Prime Minister plans to bring empty buildings back to life in the North 26 November 2014.
- Arup, Meanwhile use long term benefit.
- Meanwhile organisation.
- Meanwhile space.
- Barrett and Co. Business Rates on Empty Properties and Meanwhile Leases.
Featured articles and news
CEOs and high-level executives explain who they expect to be the most successful players in the future of construction.
What are package contracts and how are they broken down? Find out in our introductory article.
Identifying sustainable shoreline protection solutions in the face of rising sea levels and storms in the US.
Budget documents state modern methods of construction will be favoured for public infrastructure schemes from 2019.
A walk-through exhibition of an emergency humanitarian shelter is officially opened at BRE's Innovation Park.
How to work safely on a construction site during winter.
Housing is the big winner in Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Budget.
The winner of our BSRIA competition, Tomorrow's challenges in today's buildings, is.... Bob Hendrikx. A big thank you to everyone that took part.
Committee of MPs accuses government of dealing billpayers a 'bad hand' over the guaranteed power price.
In 1992, the Joint Fire Code was first published. What influence does it still have on construction sites today?
"Companies will have to adapt or go out of business" - how are virtual reality and big data disrupting digital construction?
International Well Building Institute and BRE collaborate on multiple levels to advance human health through better buildings.
"The industry has tried moving away from prescriptivism to focus on performance, but maybe that’s no longer working".