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Meanwhile Project

Meanwhile Space CIC, in partnership with Locality, is helping local organisations to make temporary use of empty shops on the high street to benefit the local community.

What is meanwhile use?

meanwhile logo‘Meanwhile use’ describes the idea that vacant shops and other town centre properties can – and should – be used in a way that benefits the area, the local community, the local authority, and the landlord, until such a time that they can be used for commercial purposes again.
Meanwhile use is not the same as a temporary lease or license because it explicitly recognises that the search for a commercial use will be ongoing.

Why meanwhile use?

The advantages of bringing empty shops back into use are felt by:

  • local community groups looking for space to meet, training providers wanting to promote informal learning activities, and arts organisations looking for studio or rehearsal space
  • landlords paying empty property business rates, as premises that are occupied and used for activities such as a temporary art gallery are no longer liable for these rates
  • local businesses, who want to keep their area vibrant and busy with visitors
  • local people who rely on their town centres and high streets for employment, shopping, leisure, entertainment, and a wide range of other services

Meanwhile use has the potential to empower people and communities to be part of the solution to the impact of the recession. It focuses on the local and can permanently transform a community for the better by giving a space for innovative ideas that will last beyond the downturn and be felt throughout the area.

The Meanwhile Project

The Meanwhile Project was set up as part of the Town Centres policy launched in April 2009 by the then Communities Secretary Hazel Blears. The project was led by the Development Trust Association (now Locality) as part of its broader Advancing Assets for Communities programme. Visit to find out more.