When working in property, there’s often a period through which landlords, estates companies or acquisition firms let land lay dormant. This is often perceived as time spent developing its future use, but more often than not it’s because there are more important priorities, insecure funding or the owner only requires part of the plot. While this is simply business to some, to us it’s an opportunity missed.
For this reason we’ve developed an in-house proposal to present to prospective land owners with the intention of securing a temporary use of undeveloped vacant land in strategic areas, starting at Swansea SA1.
Across the country the daily average pop-up rent is just 10p per square foot, in City Centres it’s £1. Units can give startup and micro-businesses their first opportunity to trade in prime shopping and leisure precincts. But we don’t think that’s going far enough. While these opportunities provide a short-term marketing gain, they don’t provide the stability required to succeed as a business in retail or hospitality. On the opposite end of the spectrum, existing fixed retail and food park management firms often require long-term lease agreements that startups and micro-businesses can’t commit to. It’s an old-fashioned system, in our eyes soon to be rendered obsolete following the 2020 recession.
In England, a new style of shopping mall is emerging. Enter the new age of pop-up malls, retail outlets and venues – Boxpark, Pop Brixton and Stack are just some of the brands disrupting the status quo and building a strong customer base. The most popular construction method is the recycling of one-use shipping containers – a strong and sturdy construction which can form modules and stacks, they can be easily dismantled and re-purposed. Normally permitted on future development land for 5 years, more successful parks like Boxpark Shoreditch, which has been trading since 2011, have had their leases extended.
We have no doubt that a similar scheme in Swansea would draw a healthy footfall given the right location, so we’re currently engaging with Swansea Council, Welsh Government and the City’s Universities with the view to acquiring a temporary lease on a suitable plot. While this sounds simple in principle, it’s no easy task. We’re sure you’ll agree with us that vacant land with no proposal for development should be made available on a temporary basis. However there are various processes which we need to get through first, like planning policy which designates classifications for development land use and talking with land owners to agree on exactly what would be a suitable temporary use of their space.