The new ‘Open Doors pilot’ project will be officially launched in Rochford town centre next month, offering a vibrant space for the community to use free of charge.
The launch event celebrates the successful start-up of the project at the former Kings Head pub, in Market Square, offering previously empty space to individuals and organisations who would like to test their community-orientated ideas and bring positive social change to their town centre.
The venue will be opened to the public from 10am until 7.30pm on Friday November 8, enabling residents and businesses to view the space, meet the users and ask questions.
This comes after Rochford District Council made a successful application to the Open Doors pilot, and was selected as one of just five locations from across the country to host such a project. The scheme seeks to match landlords with empty properties with community groups looking for space.
Open Doors is a pilot scheme funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and delivered by Meanwhile Foundation in partnership with Meanwhile Space CIC.
The pilot, which will run until April 2020, has already received more than 30 applications, which will be reviewed by Meanwhile who will provide a timetable for usage. Further applications are actively encouraged.
The timetable will be posted on https://www.facebook.com/OpenDoorsRochford/. Open Doors is run by the community for the community and everyone is welcome to join in the activities.
Portfolio Holder for Enterprise, Cllr Simon Wootton, said: “It is important as a Council that we explore opportunities to revitalise our towns, boosting footfall and ensuring they remain relevant to the needs of our residents and visitors”.
“The Open Doors project is an excellent opportunity to provide a space for the local community to use free of charge, while also stimulating confidence and investment in Rochford town centre.”
High Streets Minister Rt Hon Jake Berry said: “We know that rapidly changing shopping habits are a challenge for town centres across the country. Our Open Doors pilot is designed to tackle some of the challenges they face by revamping vacant properties to and create more spaces for people to live, work and shop.
“As one of our five pilot areas, Rochford will play a leading role in driving forward transformative change on our high streets, providing vital services to their community and bringing positive change to our high streets.
How community groups can take part
The Meanwhile Foundation welcomes a broad range of community-orientated ideas and proposals that could make positive use of this high street space. The ideas don’t have to be fully formed at this stage – this is a chance to test them out in a supportive space. Meanwhile Space is open to discussing proposals and the way in which they are programmed, e.g. one-off events, regular events, pop up slots, to make them purpose-fit for the spaces.
The space is offered free of charge to successful applicants. To find out more, and to take part, go to: https://www.meanwhile.org.uk/posts/9-open-doors