Meanwhile Spaces Report Launch

03 October 2018

We are excited to announce the launch of Centre for London’s Meanwhile Spaces Report, which was part-funded by LEAP and will help shape the LEAP’s activity to support the availability of workspace in the capital. Meanwhile spaces serve as short-term solutions: landowners decide to open up a space, using the extra time to draw up permanent plans for the site or wait for planning permissions.

The report, Meanwhile, in London: Making use of London’s empty spaces revealed that:

  • 24,400 commercial properties in the capital are currently empty, and 22,500 have been empty for at least 6 months. These account for fifteen times the floorspace of Westfield London, Europe’s largest shopping centre (a total of 1.8m sqm).
  • 2,700 hectares of land – the equivalent of the London Borough of Lambeth – has planning permission to develop, but construction has yet to start.  

The report also showed the financial implications of leaving buildings and land empty in terms of security and property taxes. As such, empty spaces awaiting redevelopment can be transformed into ‘,meanwhile spaces’ hosting anything from popup retail parks to community gardens and work spaces.

London’s current vacant office space could provide the chance to accommodate between 160,000 and 200,000 workers, but the report showed that these empty spaces are not being used to their full potential.

Three key hurdles were identified:

  • Landowners often overestimate the risks and undervalue the benefits of giving over a site to meanwhile use.
  • The planning and licensing systems can make meanwhile projects difficult to undertake.
  • The lack of larger meanwhile use operators limits capacity to take over sites and manage meanwhile activity. 

The report calls on the Mayor and the Greater London Authority to lead in demonstrating the benefits that meanwhile use can deliver to Londoners, recommending that the Mayor sets up a meanwhile use competition for empty sites across the capital, open data on empty commercial vacancies, and develop a  "Good practice code of exit” to strengthen trust between landlord and occupier.

Meanwhile Spaces is also being funded by Transport for London, Barking Riverside, Sutton Council and Peabody.

Read the full report here.