Procurement ยท 13 March 2018

London councils urged to convert empty assets into affordable workspace

Councils have been challenged to create new working spaces from empty assets, such as unused railway arches
Over 200 small business owners have demanded politicians tackle the problem of spiralling rents in London and prevent independent businesses being driven out of the capital.

The East End Trades Guild (EETG), representing 230 small firms, met the Mayor of Hackney and Tower Hamlets today as part of the launch of its Affordable Workspace Manifesto for a London Working Rent.

It comes as research from the EETG and the New Economics Foundation found that business owners were being forced out of their premises because of higher rents and business rates.

This included a Bethnal Green family business facing eviction or paying a 275 per cent rate hike, a furniture maker who left Hackney after 150 years for Woodford and tragically a suicide in Haggerston triggered by a 200 per cent rent increase.

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The manifesto calls on councils across the capital to recognise the community value of small and micro business to a borough’s prosperity and reflect this in economic and planning policy decisions.

The councils should also identify at least one empty asset in their borough and convert it into affordable workspace before the end of 2018 and create a small business community land trust to support small and micro businesses in perpetuity.

They are also urged to create a register of landlords to allow small businesses to compare rents and support the development of an affordable rent formula for small firms.

The EETG said without the manifesto there is a serious threat to the vital diversity? of the capital’s economic eco-system through the loss of jobs, services and revenues.

EETG founder Krissie Nicholson said: The workspace crisis in London is as urgent and serious as the housing crisis. If adopted by the next leaders of local government in the local elections, our five proposals will help to provide viable and sustainable solutions.

Frances Northrop, director of communities at the New Economics Foundation, added: Imagine London without the small businesses of Portobello Road, Brick Lane, Columbia Road and China Town. These enterprises are the beating heart of our communities, but they’re being driven out of the capital by the cold logic of ever-increasing rents.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs responded positively. Ive strived to make Tower Hamlets a positive place for businesses and to support local residents into employment. Im happy to be held accountable and to discuss what else we can do to support employment and employers in Tower Hamlets, he said.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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