Open Doors 

A pilot scheme trialling innovative ways to turn empty high street spaces into vibrant community hubs by matching landlords with vacant spaces to participants with great ideas. 

By Meanwhile Foundation in partnership with Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and Meanwhile Space CIC
Project dates: Spring 2019 - Spring 2020

The Pilot

‘Open Doors’ is a pilot scheme launched by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to reimagine and rethink usage of high street shops by matching landlords, struggling to find tenants for their empty shops, with people looking for space to trial their ideas. Through these partnerships, 5 vacant high street shops are being opened up to deliver programmes that experiment with innovative ways in which vacant high street shops can be turned into vibrant community hubs and bring life back to the empty sites

Meanwhile Foundation, in partnership with Meanwhile Space, have been chosen as the main partner to deliver the pilot.

The Spaces

Meanwhile Foundation has shortlisted 5 vacant spaces, located on the high street or town centres across the country, which will open up in spring 2019 and be activated for a period up to 12 months. The spaces are offered free of charge to successful applicants. The shortlisted (TBC) areas are: Rochford, Bradford, Kettering and Fenton (Stoke-on-Trent). 

Space information

Call for applications to use the space

Do you have an idea that reimagines high street shops to become a destination for culture, wellbeing, creativity or learning? We are currently looking for participants to share their ideas with us. 

We welcome a broad range of community-orientated ideas that could make positive use of a high street space and involve bringing people together. We imagine these to be site and/or community specific. The ideas don’t have to be fully formed at this stage – this is a chance to test them out in a supportive space. Meanwhile Space is open to discussing proposals and the way in which they are programmed, e.g. one-off events, regular events, pop up slots, to make them purpose-fit for the spaces

First round of applications will be reviewed on the 22nd of April, rolling thereafter

Apply now

Need some inspiration? We’ve collected some great projects to spark your imagination

  • Men’s Sheds
    Community spaces for men to connect, converse and create and help reduce loneliness and isolation
  • The Teenage Market
    A free platform offering space to young people to showcase their creative talents
  • ‘Speed mating’
    A new infrastructure to meet friends 
  • The Warehouse
    An open access Maker Space, free to use for residents of Barking and Dagenham
  • Hands-on Bristol
    A collaboration between the Bristol School of Architecture, University of the West of England and the Bristol community, that seeks to encourage and strengthen knowledge exchange between education programmes and local communities through collaboration in live project
  • Block Builders
    A not-for-profit that engages young people in the real world by modelling it in Minecraft

Submission details and criteria

  • Participants can apply as an individual, a group, or as a company
  • All applications should be led by someone over the age of 18 
  • The spaces can be shared with other participants on a rota and collaboration between different individuals and/or groups is possible.
  • Proposals don’t have to run for the full 12-month period and can be programmed for a particular timeframe
  • There will be no cost for participants to take part in the pilot outside of any personal insurance needed to run the spaces (if applicable)
  • There is no fee available for community engagement or development of the proposals
  • Ideas of a political or religious nature will not be eligible 
  • We will seek to maximise use of the space and impacts of the pilot project and will programme the space in a way that achieves the objectives best 
  • Participants are expected to contribute towards the evaluation process of the pilot undertaken by the Ministries of Homes Communities & Local Government
Meanwhile Foundation is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1151901 and company number 08251662 at c/o Anthony Collins Solicitors Llp 134, Edmund Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B3 2ES. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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