Affordable Workspace FAQs
What is Affordable Workspace?
Brent defines Affordable Workspace as workspace that is disposed or leased to an approved workspace operator for a minimum of 10 years, at no more than 50% of market value or rents for the lifetime of a development.
Who benefits from these spaces?
Affordable Workspace is available on ‘easy in, easy out’ terms which provides a number of benefits for enterprises, as well as the local community. It helps to:
- Support and nurture small businesses
- Provide social and cultural value to the local community
- Improve the local economy
- Attract local residents and international visitors
- Provide a key placemaker from the early stages of mixed-use development
Why do we need Affordable Workspace?
Demand for Affordable Workspace in Brent currently exceeds supply. The number of small businesses in the borough has substantially increased since 2010, but with much industrial land and office space being converted to new housing, the supply of workspaces affordable to small businesses is shrinking.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also demonstrated that businesses can not only survive, but thrive in the absence of a regular workplace. Delivery of Affordable Workspace can provide Brent residents the opportunity to work closer to home at affordable rates.
How does Brent Council deliver Affordable Workspace?
When a developer submits a planning application, the Council may require they partner with an Affordable Workspace Operator to provide Affordable Workspace as part of their scheme. The type and quantity of workspace is agreed and secured through a legal contract called a Section 106 Agreement. If the workspace proposed is considered inappropriate due to its size or location, then a cash contribution is paid by the developer, which is used towards providing Affordable Workspace elsewhere in the borough.
Brent’s draft Local Plan includes four policies to deliver Affordable Workspace in Brent:
- Draft Policy BE1 relates to providing workspace in Growth Areas such as Wembley.
- Draft Policy BE2 supports delivery of Affordable Workspace in SIL (Strategic Industrial Locations) and LSIS (Locally Significant Industrial Sites).
- Draft Policy BE3 provides for Affordable Workspace on Local Employment Sites (LES).
- Draft Policy BE4 promotes workspace in unviable secondary frontage in town centres.
What are the different types of Affordable Workspaces?
The most common forms of Affordable Workspace are Incubators, Accelerators and Coworking spaces (IACs), as well as artists’ studios/makerspaces. IACs provide desk space for start-ups and SMEs. Artists’ studios and makerspaces help people in creative industries to grow their practice. Affordable Workspace can also provide community or commercial kitchens.
What sorts of businesses occupy Affordable Workspaces?
The Council has identified sectors that it seeks to grow, retain, attract and start-up. Growth sectors include Media and Creative sectors, and industries relating to the Circular Economy –exciting opportunities to diversify workspace in the borough and foster innovative work.
What is an Affordable Workspace Operator?
Affordable Workspace Operators are organisations committed to providing and managing low-cost workspace, business support and networking opportunities. Workspaces are often run by charities or not-for-profit organisations. Operators tend to offer all-in prices, which include the cost of rent, business rates and utilities on flexible ‘easy in, easy out’ terms. View the list of our approved Affordable Workspace Operators.
How can developers help deliver Affordable Workspace?
Whilst the Council can require Affordable Workspace be leased or disposed to an Operator after a planning application has been determined, it is most successfully delivered when considered proactively at design stage and in advance of planning submission. We strongly encourage developers consult with Operators during the pre-planning application stage. Close collaboration with the Council can also help to determine viable local demand and inform scheme design and planning.