Making Use of Empty Shops: 3 Space Evening session July 5, 2013


An interesting selection of speakers talk about how they have transfomed empty high street shops into a streets of opportunities.

Lucy Schofield, ASF-UK Community


We are Pop Up  Abbey Freeman
With 1 in 10 high street shops lying empty, there are 9 months or 270 days of wasted high street shopping opportunities per year. We Are Pop Up provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs, community groups and creatives to take over and try and test their ideas in high street shops. They encourage people to learn by doing and to start small and see what happens. In the UK, this is a growing phenomenon with many pop up projects appearing on our high streets from pop up making spaces to supper clubs and bakeries. We are Pop Up believe done is better than perfect. Here are some inspiring examples and stories from the speakers:

Theatre Delicatessen
Theatre Delicatessen are an organisation who open up and transform empty buildings for community arts uses. They are an artistic charity spreading across a variety of media. Their most recent project on 35 Marylebone High Street in central London took over 42,000 square feet of the vacant Scottish Widows offices and transformed the space into a rehearsal space and theatre. By letting a charity occupy the vacant property Scottish Widows qualify for an 80% business relief rate. Scottish widows in turn passed on a proportion of this to the theatre. This allowed for some of the actors to be paid for performances and covered some of the associated overheads. With arts grants in short supply in the financial current climate, this is good way of accessing funds and the experience is mutually beneficial for both organisations.

Shop Revolution Louise
The Shop revolution has co-ordinated projects for pop up shops on 3 High Streets in south east London, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Kirkdale. Initially with 3 pilots on each High Street, shops have ranged from small fashion boutiques to butchers and pop up supper clubs. Shop Revolution offer leases of 1 – 3 months, allowing ideas to be tried and tested without a huge financial outlay.
Opening pop up shops creates new activity and can put tired high streets back as a destination. Hosting events in association with these new establishments can refresh local community interaction. For example, In Forest Gate, a local boutique created a buzz during London Fashion Week by holding a local fashion week, inviting both local community and high profile people to participate. Appropriate positioning of the shops is also key to their success, for example, on one street, the pop up butchers was extremely successful because it took advantage of the passing Sainsbury’s shoppers who couldn’t find good cuts in the local supermarket.  This is beneficial for the owners of the vacant shops who have a new lease of life put into the shops and it can encourage long term tenants.






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