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Council premises leased to VCS organisations

The council has a limited stock of buildings which it leases to Voluntary and Community Sector organisations. Most are buildings that have a planning designation D1, which means they cannot be used for commercial activity and are described as community buildings.

Historically the council has had a number of different arrangements with organisations which was inconsistent and potentially unfair. During 2016 and 2017 the council worked with the Voluntary and Community Sector to produce consistent arrangements which met the need for openness and transparency, the council’s requirement to charge an appropriate rent, ensured hidden subsidies would be phased out and, in recognition of the benefit of work carried out by organisations in the community from our buildings, a scheme to reduce the amount of rent Voluntary and Community Sector lessees might have to pay.

The current arrangements agreed in 2016 for organisations leasing community buildings can be summarised as: 

  • there must be a lease in place which will normally be for three to five years
  • rent is payable at an appropriate rate for a community building
  • lessees are responsible for all outgoings
  • leases are outside the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
  • a rent reduction scheme will be established to provide 80 per cent rent reduction for organisations that meet specified criteria and can show their activities have a community benefit
  • rent reduction will not be available where an organisation provides services such as those commissioned by competitive tender where a subsidy from the council might be seen as giving an unfair advantage.

The council has recently discussed with the Voluntary and Community Sector some revisions to the arrangements agreed in 2016. This was so that the arrangements can be extended to include all Voluntary and Community Sector organisations leasing premises from us whether the building is designated a community building or is part of our commercial portfolio, which we normally generate income from to help pay for council services. Read the proposed revisions of arrangements for leasing premises.

The proposed revisions will be considered by the council’s Cabinet on 20 March 2018 and, from 13 March you can read the report from Cabinet 20 March 2018.

Tower Hamlets council for Voluntary Service (THCVS) has been working with the council on the proposals through its Premises Forum. Find out what was discussed at the THCVS premises forum.

Previous council reports relating to Voluntary and Community Sector organisations leasing premises are as follows:

If you have any comments or questions, please contact David Freeman, Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy Manager at david.freeman@towerhamlets.gov.uk.