Leasing an empty community building

Community centres

In December 2019, Cabinet agreed a new methodology for managing council-owned community centres. This was again noted at Cabinet in December 2021. A core part of this methodology was the asset review flowchart, which tied in local plan policy alongside the wider community centre strategy.

When a community centre becomes empty, we will:

  1. Determine whether the property is needed as a council-run community centre
  2. If not, we will review it against local plan policy (INF8)
  3. If it does not meet the criteria laid out in the policy, then we will look to advertise the property on the open market and offer for lease/license to Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations.

Leasing an Empty Community Centre

If a council-owned community centre becomes empty, we will advertise the centre on the open market via our agents Dobbin & Sullivan. Dobbin & Sullivan will manage the application process.

We will also inform Compost London about all vacancies and they will circulate the opportunity to VCS organisations that are registered with them. We recommend that VCS organisations register with Compost London using the Compost London Survey and sign up to their newsletter.

An open morning or afternoon will be held at the property where further information on Social Value subsidies will be provided.

All organisations interested in applying for the centre will be asked to submit a detailed business plan, covering how they plan to use the centre, details of the organisation, access to funding, and so on.

A deadline to submit these plans will be set, at which point the Community Assets Coordinator (CAC) will arrange for a Review Panel to meet and go over each submission. In some cases, there may be additional questions for the applicants. However, we would look to make a final decision at this point, informing each VCS organisation of the outcome and providing feedback to those unsuccessful.

What happens if you are successful?

We will then take forward the completion of a Social Value Self-Assessment form. This form identifies the level of social value the organisation would deliver in year 1 of the lease, and provide a subsidy that is reflected on the rental invoice paid by the organisation. Depending on outcome, an organisation could receive between 20-80% subsidies on their rent. This is for organisations scoring 25-100 or more on the self-assessment form, with the subsidy reviewed annually to reflect any changes to the performance of the organisation.

There is a need to ensure that the organisations who occupy these buildings understand that the primary purpose of the building is to serve tenants and leaseholders and this should be key to their delivery model.

The lease will be signed separately from the social value subsidy, and will be negotiated based on the Heads of Terms. Generally, leases for community centres owned by the Council will be for 7 years, but in some cases, a shorter or longer term may be required.

What happens if you are unsuccessful?

All VCS organisations that are not successful in their application will receive ongoing support. If registered with Compost London, they will be contacted with any opportunities that come up in the future, including at community centres and council-owned properties advertised through the Council’s agents Dobbin & Sullivan, as well as other spaces available in the community.

Asset Review Flowchart (PDF)
Social Value Policy and Procedures (PDF) 
Leasing an empty council-run community centre (PDF)
Community centres and social value cabinet meeting (PDF)