We’re asking councils to implement a new planning classification of ‘ReSpace’, which enables landlords and community groups to easily collaborate on the re-use of empty buildings. — The Hive in Dalston
Located in the dead shopping centre in Aldershot, Techstart recycles computers, provides help, advice and training, and runs a free net café.
TechStart could be part of a hub of social enterprises, for example a social enterprise café turning waste food into delicious meals.
Lacking in vision, the local council has cut the funding. TechStart will close at the end of the month. The local council is even refusing to provide bridge funding to give TechStart time to establish as an independent trust or cooperative and seek alternative funding.
Were the council to put in bridge funding, then alternatives could be explored, crowd funding, but time is not on the side of TechStart.
The fastest growing sector of the economy is sharing, collaborative commons, open coops, but sadly a local council lacking vision, a local council that has trashed Aldershot through decades of bad planning, with no understanding of how local economies work, is deliberately undermining a social enterprise, a social enterprise that is run by volunteers.
There has been no public consultation with the local community on pulling the plug on TechStart. The local council not only demonstrating incompetence by destroying a valuable social enterprise, but also showing utter contempt for the local community.
The dysfunctional local council would rather squander public money on monoliths obstructing the public highway bombarding passers by with advertising for consumer junk than support a social enterprise.
The dead shopping centre has been derelict for years. Empty for six months it can be reclassified as ReSpace. Units let at peppercorn rents to social enterprises, the landlords pay no businesses rates.
The Hive in Dalston, an independent social space that opened up two weeks after getting permission from the landlord on about £250, is an example of what can be achieved.
The self-sustaining project was set up in May 2015 and has so far facilitated hundreds of unique events, including workshops, conferences, seminars, exhibitions, cabarets – as well as enabling several start-ups businesses and helping a variety of charities by storing donations and raising funds.
It it requires is a community group with ideas, a forward looking visionary council, and a property developer willing to cooperate.
The dead shopping centre in Aldershot has sat derelict for years. This is likely to be its state for the foreseeable future, unless the space is used for social enterprises.
TechStart could form a hub of social enterprises, including small business start-ups. The dysfunctional local council are aware of these opportunities and possibilities. Are they going to show vision and move forward or having destroyed the town centre do they prefer to destroy TechStart and leave the dead shopping centre like a film set for a post-apocalypse movie?
Please sign the petition calling upon councils to make better use of derelict buildings and put to community use.