Meanwhile Uses

The Meanwhile Project (see Section G of the portal) defines this as:

‘Meanwhile use’ is the temporary use of vacant buildings or land for a socially beneficial purpose until such a time that they can be brought back into commercial use again. It makes practical use of the ‘pauses’ in property processes, giving the space over to uses that can contribute to quality of life and better places whilst the search for a commercial use is ongoing”

In practice this means that any type of land or building asset can be brought into use for a temporary period and be used in the meanwhile until its future can be more permanently decided.

Meanwhile use has covered a wide range of activity including:
Temporary shops
Arts activity (exhibitions and workshops)
Markets
Food growing
Car parking
Sports facilities

The benefits of adopting a meanwhile use of land or buildings are that it provides opportunities to:

  • To put a place “on the map” and help build a potential market for activities.
  • To generate some income whilst it is in temporary use.
  • To create activity where otherwise there would be dereliction/vacancy.
  • To provide security to vacant buildings and land that can prevent vandalism, fly tipping and other activities that create environmental problems and anti social activities.
  • To create a focus for community mobilisation about the use of land and buildings in a neighbourhood.

The particular difficulties faced for meanwhile uses are:

  • Cooperation from an owner
  • Costs associated with start up to make the asset possible to use – even on a temporary basis

There have been few meanwhile use projects in Wales although some local councils and arts organisations have used empty shops projects as a base for arts and consultation activities – see http://www.newportcitycentre.co.uk/emptyshops.aspx and http://www.ark-lab.co.uk/project/arkade-empty-shop-project