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Finding a Space

Industry Associate Chris Biddlecombe highlights things to consider when finding a space for your creative business in Scotland

Finding the right property to develop your creative idea in any city, town or rural location will always be difficult and will require perseverance and tenacity. The initial steps that you need to consider are:

Area and property searches

Consider the areas that may be good for your project to be located: the current cultural activity and other creative buildings, other amenities, types of community, ease of access – links to public transport and parking, footfall and safety. Explore as many areas and properties as possible so that you acquire a good overview of the market in your chosen region. Link to national and regional commercial property sites and local authorities to see what property is available. Also link with other cultural organisations for existing private landlord opportunities. Remember the cheapest initial rental/buying price is not always the best overall economic option for your project – so understand all associated costs.

Shortlisting

When a space has been identified and a site visit has taken place, a building assessment will be required in order to understand the scale of work required to fit-out the space – a schedule of works. Make a preference list that enables you to collect and compare information on potential properties so that you can make an informed decision – understand both what the landlord is offering, and what they are not providing, within the rental cost. Consider all options that the overall building offers: how you and associated partners wish to operate the space, what is an acceptable size, what essential improvements you need to make, what utilities are currently in place, what legal issues you need to address and the overall costs.

Understand Rates Relief options

When you are considering a property and the rental cost, you will also need to consider the cost of specific business rates and water rates. Most property schedules will provide information on business rates – if this is not directly available you will be able to calculate it online through the the local authority website. As an artist you may qualify for rate relief as a small creative business – there are a number of options that you should investigate given your specific situation:

  • Charitable organisation status - to qualify for relief your organisation needs to be registered with the Office of Scottish Charities Regulators (OSCR) and your local council must be satisfied that the work carried out at your new property will be mainly for a charitable purpose
  • Fresh start rate relief - offers 50% rates relief for a period of 12 months on newly occupied properties
  • Small business rates relief - you can get business rates relief through the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) if the combined rateable value of all your business premises in Scotland is £35,000 or less

Investigate specific current details of each scheme for your own situation on local authority or Scottish Government websites

Your property agreement

When you have a chosen property that fits your desired plans you will then have to carefully manage the relationship with the owner (your future landlord or the seller). At the earliest point you should meet with the owner personally at the start of the project to build this relationship – ideally this should be both in a professional capacity and also in a friendly/supportive capacity of someone that understands your project and wishes to support the concept of the future venture. At these meetings ensure that your proposal is clearly defined, how it may benefit the landlord and the community, and that all future expectations from all parties are understood. You may find that you will need to gather various contractors and other professionals in developing the space so it is very useful to get full clarification and acceptance of responsibilities at the earliest opportunity. Once full discussions have taken place all agreements should be clearly outlined in writing, so that there are no misunderstandings in future. At this stage legal representation should also be sought to draw up a lease or license for use of the property – this is usually organised by the landlord. Do not feel that you have to accept the first draft – seek advice (i.e CEO advisers, a solicitor etc) and negotiate mutually beneficial terms.

Refine your plan

You will now need to further develop your business plan into the realistic expectations of a live project. You will need to consider how the space will operate, what is your core mission statement and what are your immediate achievable objectives. At this stage you should also consider marketing and development of networks to ensure that you promote and connect to the local and creative community that will support your project.

Need further help to find your space?

You can make a free appointment with CEO to discuss your search for creative space, or view our Support Hub

Looking for sound advice and/or a sounding board?

Contact us to organise a meeting with one of our experienced and friendly creative industry advisors.