Procurement · 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.

Take a look back at our business rates coverage:

Business rates bills confirm £845m tax hike for small firms

Two pubs demolished or converted every day since business rates revaluation

Local councils intensify bailiff enforcement against unpaid business rates

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. “I’ve strived to make Tower Hamlets a positive place for businesses and to support local residents into employment. I’m happy to be held accountable and to discuss what else we can do to support employment and employers in Tower Hamlets,” he said.

__________________________________________________________________________________
Covent Garden Market

 

The Food Exchange: A glimpse inside London’s new co-working hub for food startups

Based at Nine Elms in Battersea,The Food Exchange is a first-of-its-kind co-working space to allow food entrepreneurs to create and collaborate under one roof.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.


 
TAGS:

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

Q&A

If you’ve found the article above useful, but have a more detailed and bespoke question, then please feel free to submit a query to our expert. We at Business Advice will get in contact with them on your behalf and arrange for a personalised response. These questions and answers will then be collated on the site for any other readers who have similar queries.

Ask a question

On the up