ASTOP has a proven track record of engaging with local councils to utilise empty retail and office space. In doing this, we create positive community programmes and reduce the risk of previously bustling areas falling foul of decay and degeneration.

The team at ASTOP match empty premises with good causes and charity organisations through rent-free, short-term rolling tenancy/licence agreements. Importantly, such use means properties are typically exempt from empty property business rates. Savings can be shared and everybody wins.

Despite the lack of business rates income, local councils are generally supportive of our methods. Empty commercial properties often become unsightly and encourage anti-social behaviour. Rather than risk an area falling into disrepair, a mechanism that allows a charity or good cause to blossom is attractive to all parties.

Supporting Councils in Community Development Partnerships

Councils, it seems, are always on the lookout for opportunities to build social cohesion and strengthen local ties. Our work is often applauded for creating social networks and community hubs where otherwise there would be empty spaces which often attract crime and anti-social behaviour.

Our projects have a proven track record of combining charities and non-profit organisation priorities with commercial landlords who wish to legitimately reduce their business rates on empty and unused assets. The benefit to councils and local authorities is often maintaining their high footfall attractions despite shop and workplace closures. High Streets and shopping areas often find a new lease of life through community-centred ventures made possible by landlords claiming business rates relief.

Large properties can be split and made available to multiple organisations and community groups. In this way, former retail spaces can become ‘hubs’ with service provision delivered to a range of council residents, including vulnerable groups, from under one roof.


Charitable Property Partnerships for a Greater Cause

In many cases, ASTOP forms partnerships with specific council support. Free office and coworking space is invaluable to charities and non-profit organisations, but it is also an ideal way to make their help accessible to the wider community. As a result, charities and good causes are more likely to reach more beneficiaries and have a greater impact on the communities they serve. Charities also can often work more closely with other aligned organisations, donors and volunteers with centralised office space. These connections often lead to shared initiatives and joint efforts that benefit entire communities.

It is therefore perhaps not surprising that our initiatives are generally supported by councils and local government. There are other legal business rates relief and avoidance mechanisms available but they are often based solely on protecting landlords interests rather than the community. We’re proud to say that, to date, we have been welcomed by over 100 local authorities and commended by councillors and MPs from across the UK political spectrum. The charity-landlord partnerships we create are widely accepted as the most ethical form of rate reduction by both local and national governments.

Enabling Ethical Property Solutions

Not all our work is with commercial landlords. We can help with utilising council spaces too. Finding ethical short-term tenants for local authority buildings that would otherwise be empty is a key part of our work. Our brand of ethical property management allows councils to create positive community relationships, give local charities direct support and boost the local economy. It is also proven that occupied properties are better maintained and much easier for councils to actively promote to future long-term tenants.

Ethical property use arranged through ASTOP is generally considered a good news story. Community activity is clearly aligned with most organisational Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability policies. It is, in a very real sense, giving something back to the community employees live and work in. Good news stories aren’t always the easiest thing to find, so we often find ourselves liaising with council communications teams and the media to share stories.

Maximising Community Impact through Council Collaboration

Whether it is pop-up charity shops that keep footfall coming into town centres or along high streets or maintaining empty office space in good condition to reduce the risk of dereliction and anti-social behaviour, we work hand-in-hand with councils.

We know the best way to deliver positive change across communities is to form collaborative partnerships. It is something we apply to our relationships with landlords, charities, good causes and local government.

As such we are one of the few business rate relief schemes welcomed and actively encouraged by many UK councils. We find this sense of goodwill and council collaboration has a considerable positive impact on the outcomes of almost all our projects.


Fostering Positive Relationships with Local Authorities

Our relationships with UK councils have not happened by accident. We’ve spent many years and a lot of effort in establishing and maintaining positive relationships with UK councils. It is paramount for any successful property development to work in a highly collaborative environment where owners and local authorities work hand in hand to create thriving, sustainable communities.

A positive relationship with the council streamlines the decision-making process and leads to honest and open communication and mutual understanding. Success is more likely if everyone has a shared vision about the goals of any community partnership or initiative. Regular consultations ensure that our schemes align with local planning policies and any concerns can be addressed promptly before they become challenging issues.

Positive relationships contribute to community engagement. By involving the local council in repurposing, even temporarily, empty property, we can join the council to address any objections and move forward. It is important that the goodwill and positive perceptions around our work are maintained for all parties.

The councils we work with need to know that the business rates sacrifice is offset by other benefits. Our landlords need to know their interests are being protected and the charities and good causes we work with need to feel supported so they can make the most of any new opportunities their tenancy presents.

Through collaboration and transparent communication, ASTOP has become adept at navigating the intricacies of business rates relief while adhering to regulations and contributing positively to the communities we work in. Our partnerships with councils and local government are not just advantageous for individual projects but serve as a foundation for all our work.


Promoting Sustainable Community Development

Contact the ASTOP team if you’d like to know more about how we work with councils to promote sustainable community development through collaboration. We can talk you through case studies where commercial landlords, local authorities and charities have joined forces for the greater good.