FAQs & Key Concerns
How are you different from other rates savings and meanwhile usage schemes?
Over 12 months we offer like-for-like savings or better to profit-making short-term occupation schemes that offer void savings.
We are unique in the UK. Other charitable rates savings businesses act as agents and faciliatators, filling the space with other people's charities or businesses. While we offer some of our space to relevant individuals or companies they must related to our charitable work. In fact all our buildings contain our own work, with income generated from property partnerships going directly to the creation of new artistic work, self-generated community activity and supporting artists and creatives.
What about planning? Won't you need to change the planning classification?
We will need to change the planning classification. However, we always apply for a temporary status of 'sui generis' that is automatically returned to the original planning classification at the end of the tenancy. We will deal with all aspects of our planning application as part of our tenancy.
Won't local residents want you to stay? Everyone likes a nice theatre.
In our experience, local residents and developers have similar concerns around the precedent our projects might set. However, we've found that the temporality of the project is key for both parties in ensuring we are perceived positively.
We also plan each tenancy as a discreet artistic project. Most projects are 1 year to 18 months long depending on the break-clause we negotiate with the landlord. Each project is carefully planned to deliver a range of charitable activities and events. Once the project is complete, and unless the landlord is able to offer enough time to run a new project, we then run our basic activities until the building is closed for redevelopment or the end of our lease - whichever is most beneficial to the landlord.
What if there is a major issue with building infrastructure?
If there are issues with building infrastructure the responsibility will lie with the landlord, as per a typical standard tenancy agreement. We put a clause in our tenancy contracts that we will deal with any structural issues that cost below £2500 so that you know the smaller jobs will be managed by us.
We will not make any changes to the hard building infrastructure, without prior written permission from the landlord.
Isn't this rate relief considered a 'reverse premium' and just a tax avoidance scheme?
'Reverse premium' is defined as “…leasing empty properties from private landlords in which negligible charitable activity subsequently takes place….where the charity may receive funding"
We can provide substantial evidence of the charitable activity in all our buildings, alongside proof of the cultural value through those activities. We've been given both charitable and discretionary rate relief from Westminster, Islington and Sheffield City Councils.
Because demand for the activities and resources we provide the cultural sector we occupy 100% of buildings of any size. Our current main project is at 119 Farringdon Road, a 78,000 sq ft building that we use every corner of for art, making and performance.
Do you pay rent?
It depends on the building and the situation. On all large redevelopment projects we've been part of we take on a peppercorn lease in exchange for reducing business rates and providing full building management and security. We will consider paying rent on long-term leases where we are able to invest better in core organisational and building infrastructure.