Community land trusts and co-working
Community land trusts could take on a central community role in a post-Covid world by providing co-working spaces.
Much is written about the post Covid “new normal”, but no-one yet knows exactly what form this will take. However, one thing that does seem certain is that there will be new ways of working.
Along with many people, most of us at Wrigleys have spent the last year largely working from home. Working from home full-time is not desirable or feasible for many people, whether due to lack of space, concerns around isolation and loneliness or simply because they miss the buzz and opportunities of the socialising which an office environment affords.
However, home-working also has significant benefits. Clawing back time previously spent commuting helps create a better work-life balance and avoiding the daily commute also helps save on carbon emissions. It can also help businesses save money, reducing the need for large city-centre office space.
A balance therefore needs to be found between home-working and working in city-centre offices all the time. This gap could be filled by flexible serviced offices, shared with other businesses, located near to where people live in suburbs, small town and villages.
These ‘co-working’ spaces could be housed in empty shops, offices or even pubs. They would offer a compromise for those people who live at some distance from their workplace, who do not wish to travel into a city-centre office, but who also don’t want to work from home for whatever reason.
Could community land trusts help to support this model of co-working?
The provision of co-working spaces would be a natural fit for community lands trusts. The legal definition of a community land trust requires it to acquire and manage land and other assets which further the social, economic, and environmental interests of the local community. Co-working spaces could potentially have all these benefits:
- Socially, a co-working space could provide a hub at the heart of the community where people can come together to work. Bringing together different businesses and sectors in one place could lead to an explosion of creativity and new ideas.
- Economically, the provision of co-working spaces could provide CLTs with a valuable income stream. At the same time, the CLT could repurpose defunct office or retail space, vacated by other businesses, helping to regenerate a local area. It could also incorporate workspace for small businesses, helping to generate new employment and training opportunities for local people.
- Environmentally, the CLT would be helping to discourage people from travelling a significant distance to go to work, reducing commuting time and carbon emissions.
By keeping such assets community owned, they will be guaranteed to bring benefit to the community in the long term.
Points a CLT would need to consider
A CLT would need to check whether such activity was permissible under its objects. This will be particularly important if a CLT is charitable.
As with any new activity, a CLT would also need to be sure it was in the best interests of the organisation to undertake such activities. The board would need to produce a thorough business plan to make sure it was going to generate enough income to cover costs.
We are aware of some CLTs which are already looking at co-working spaces as part of their activities. It would be interesting to hear from any other groups which are looking at this model. Either drop us a line using the contact details below, or come along to our next virtual social on Thursday 20 May (details here).
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Laura Moss or any other member of the community-led housing team on 0113 244 6100.
You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys charities team on Twitter here
The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors