Artists and arts organisations are often interested in using empty shops or other premises on a temporary basis. This may be for a few weeks or months for an exhibition or project.The information on this page is to assist you in planning what you want to do.

CONTENTS

Section 1. Temporary use of premises - indoor spaces

1.1  Property Ownership
        For properties owned by B&NES Council
        For properties owned by a private company or individual
1.2  Costs
1.3  Other issues to consider before contacting property owners about using empty premises

Section 2. Organising and promoting outdoor events

2.1  Using the Council's Events Toolkit
2.2  Anti-clash arrangements

 


 

Section 1. Temporary use of empty premises - Indoor spaces 

1.1  Property Ownership

Empty shops and other premises in Bath and North East Somerset will be owned either by B&NES Council or by a private company or individual. Properties available for rent could be used for temporary events. Permission may also be given - in certain circumstances - for temporary use of properties currently offered for sale. In either case, you will need to approach the owner - or an agent acting for them - to discuss what you want to do. 

For properties owned by B&NES Council 
To obtain details of properties which are currently vacant and available for sale or rent contact Property Services on 01225 477172 or email pals_adminhelpdesk@bathnes.gov.uk

Who do I contact if I want to hire a Council owned empty property?
Contact Karen McStravick on 01225 477945 (Mon-Wed) or email Karen_mcstravick@bathnes.gov.uk to see if a property is available for a temporary let.

How much does it cost to hire a Council owned empty property?
The rent demanded will depend very much on the size and location of the property. In addition to the rent you will have to pay business rates for the period of time that you occupy the premises as well as utility costs.

Prospective hirers should note the following:

  • Empty properties are very limited and can only be booked two months in advance.
  • Lettings to a permanent tenant will take priority over temporary lets and it may be necessary to cancel temporary lets at very short notice.
  • All tenants must have public liability insurance cover for no less than £5 million.
  • Properties are let “as seen” and tenants may not make any alterations. The property must be returned in the same condition as at the beginning of the agreement with any damage reinstated and all rubbish removed at the tenant’s expense.
  • Tenants are responsible for making their own enquiries regarding parking, refuse collection, availability of wi-fi, public liability insurance, obtaining licences, payment of business rates etc
  • Once you have the keys you have full responsibility for ensuring the security of the building and the property during your tenancy, including locking the building overnight

For properties owned by a private company or individual 

Find out who the owner or their agent is. This information will sometimes be displayed on the building or you can visit the Invest West Property Search page.

For further information contact Economic Development on (01225) 477748 or email economic_development@bathnes.gov.uk

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1.2  Costs

Using a property, even on a temporary basis, means that you will have to pay business rates for the period of time the building is used. You will also need to pay the fees for water rates and fuel/heating/lighting for the period of time that these services are used.

Some private owners may be willing to negotiate with you to reduce or waive these charges, if they are enthusiastic about your activity or feel it is to their benefit to do so.

We regret that the Council is unable to reduce or waive charges. The only exception to this is if you wish to use a window display area only (with no access to - or use of - the premises). For more details contact Property Services on 01225 477172 or email pals_adminhelpdesk@bathnes.gov.uk

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1.3  Other issues to consider before contacting property owners about using empty premises

Regardless of who owns the property, they will expect you to have thought about the following questions and have the answers prepared. Even if you are not asked these direct questions, it will be helpful to have considered them.

a.  What do you want to do in the building?
Examples: exhibition, community arts project, artist making own work, film screening, talk/lecture.

Why do they want to know? 
The owner will want to understand the nature of the activity: is it pictures on a wall, a band rehearsing, people making mosaics? They don’t need to know anything about why you want to do this or your artistic aims and objectives.

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b.  Is this activity going to create nuisance to neighbours by creating noise or mess/disorder?
Noise examples: drums/bass, voice/singing, any amplified music, dance (floor reverberation), machinery or equipment.
Mess/disorder examples: unusual amounts of litter or waste, a skip being sited near your venue, some forms of graffiti or spraycan art (which may not be perceived as art by everyone).

Why do they want to know?
Any of the above could cause irritation or nuisance to immediate neighbours.

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c.  Is this activity going to infringe any law especially regarding taste & decency?
This could apply to images (painting, sculpture, moving image) which are displayed for public view. The question is - do they portray the naked body in a manner likely to offend a ‘decent person’? Please note that this does not completely preclude images of the naked body, but the test of indecency is the likelihood of offending a ‘decent person’ (or ‘person in the street'). Therefore you need to use common sense to judge whether your activity might risk infringement of the law.

Why do they want to know?
Because the property owners will want to avoid any risk of illegality which would reflect negatively on them.

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d.  Who will be in the building, and will this be just yourself and colleagues, or will members of the public be coming and going?
Are you using the space purely for yourself (eg. artists studio, band rehearsal), or will members of the public be visiting (eg. exhibition, film screening)?

Why do they want to know?
The numbers of people and general ‘coming and going’ will have an impact on the immediate neighbourhood. Consider who the neighbours are: are they shops and businesses or private homes? How might your activity impact on them?

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e.  If the public are admitted - how many people at any one time?
Estimate a realistic number, even if you’re not sure. You should estimate the total over one day (eg.100) but also the approximate number at any one time (eg.10).

Why do they want to know?
In addition to the general ‘nuisance’ of people coming & going, if you are admitting the public you need to consider the provision of toilets, people’s safety whilst in the building and fire evacuation procedures.

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f.  Will children/minors be in the building at any time?
What ages will under-18s be?  Will you specify that younger children be accompanied by a parent/carer?

Why do they want to know?
Young children accompanied by a parent/carer may be deemed to be the responsibility of the adult they are with. However, older children and teenagers under 18 are ‘minors’ in law and you have a duty to safeguard them whilst they are on your premises. If you/your organisation are providing arts activities for children, you must by law be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service. For information about safeguarding visit our page on Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults at Events.

Some buildings - and some arts activities or events - may be unsuitable for younger children due to either the artistic content or the use of machinery, small parts, etc.

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g.  What times of day and night will the activity be occurring?
You need to be very clear and specific about this, specifying times ‘no earlier than -’ and ‘no later than -’

Why do they want to know?
Activity early or late can cause nuisance to immediate neighbours - people talking, banging of doors, parking vehicles etc. This is a particular consideration if the neighbours are in private dwellings.

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h.  What vehicles will be associated with the use of the building (both your own and members of the public visiting)?
Where will you park?  Where will visitors park?  Will any vehicle be unusually large?

Why do they want to know?
The adjacent streets may be residents parking only, or parking may be difficult.

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i.  Will food or alcohol be supplied & served on the premises?
This refers to the provision of food or alcohol to members of the public (whether free of charge at an exhibition preview or for sale).

Why do they want to know?
An exhibition preview where you provide wine & nibbles is a controlled, private, invite-only event. You do not need a licence for this. But sales of either food or alcohol require licensing to be obtained by the seller.

Provision must also be made for suitable food hygiene management, preparation, storage and disposal. Unless you are already a licence holder, permitting you to sell alcohol and/or prepare and sell food, it is very unlikely that you will be able to do this in a short-term rent property.

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j.  Will people be bringing their own food or alcohol to the premises?

An exhibition preview where you provide wine & nibbles is a controlled, private, invite-only event. You do not need a licence for this. It is also fine to bring sufficient food and drink for your own consumption while you are working on the premises. But you should beware of letting members of the public (including your own friends) use the premises as a private party venue. 

Why do they want to know?
This could cause nuisance to immediate neighbours.

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k. Will you be playing recorded music?
Having a radio or cd on while you work on your own is fine. But playing music in a public space raises other issues.

Why do they want to know?
Playing music as a background to an exhibition (for example) requires a Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence to be paid.

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l.  Will you be performing live music?

Why do they want to know?
The performance of live music requires you to obtain a Temporary Event Notice (TEN). For information visit the Council's Licensing page.

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m.  Will you be doing any filming?

Why do they want to know?
If filming is involved as part of your project, the Bath Film Office should be informed. Telephone 01225 477711, email bath_filmoffice@bathnes.gov.ukVisit the Bath Film Office website.

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n.  Will there be any one-off events?
For example talks, an exhibition launch, a screening

Why do they want to know?
If your routine activity is fairly quiet and low-key, but you will be having a one-off event when a large number of people will attend, it will be helpful to give the premises owner this information. 

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o. Will you be using machinery or equipment and, if so, what, and what for?
Examples: equipment for welding, woodworking, pottery wheels and kilns, mixing desks, projectors.

Why do they want to know?
Electrical equipment must be tested and certificated safe to use, and likewise any other mechanical equipment. Equipment requiring power in excess of normal domestic consumption should be checked against the wiring and circuitry in the premises. Excessive noise or vibration could cause nuisance to immediate neighbours.

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Section 2. Organising and promoting outdoor events

2.1  Using the Council's Events Toolkit

The Council's Events Toolkit provides guidance for organisations or promoters who want to put on one-off outdoor events or festivals (‘Festivals’ meaning several events over a day, weekend or longer). Use of outdoor spaces can be more complicated than using indoor spaces and we advise you to take careful note of the following information which will assist you in planning what you want to do.

The information in the Events Toolkit is particularly geared towards organisations or promoters who are organising an event or festival for the first time, or who have not worked in the Bath and North East Somerset area before. However, existing and experienced event organisers may still find the information useful.

Please read the Events Toolkit pages.

You are also advised to read Section 1. 'Temporary use of empty premises - Indoor spaces' as many of the issues covered there may also be relevant if you are organising outdoor events.

Email event@bathnes.gov.uk for further information or assistance

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2.2  Anti-clash Arrangements

Event organisers may wish to check that the date and time of their event will not clash with another event or activity. 

The Council's Events Advice and Support team maintain an Events Calendar for events taking place in the district.

The calendar contains the dates of all the events of which the Council has been informed. Event organisers can check the calendar to see what else is on as far as we know. 

Visit the Bath and North East Somerset Events Calendar.

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