Finding spaces that are available

Typically, the empty spaces that are available for arts and community use aren't located in prime retail spots. They are down side streets or in secondary retail areas with less footfall and little commercial viability. They're forgotten corners of towns. The units are often small, shabby and outdated so have little use for modern retailers. Many are left with the debris of previous tenants, with windows painted white or covered in old newspaper.

Finding the right location for a project will involve walking town centres and mapping spaces, and then trying to find who owns individual properties. Helping to build the strength of the empty shops sector are websites such as Spare Place which helps to map spaces available, and organisations such as 3 Space which helps to broker deals between landlords and community organisations.

This is valuable work. The UK's town centres are typically owned by a mix of small, often local landlords, larger developers and trusts who may be holding property portfolios across the country for their asset value alone, and local authorities. In one area of the Empty Shops Network's home town Worthing, around 100 landlords were identified by the local council.