Creating community spaces

A project that has breathed new life into unused high street properties is celebrating two years of success.

The Vacant Unit Action Project by Bath & North East Somerset Council has created community spaces in Bath city centre, Twerton, Midsomer Norton and Keynsham, and which are now being showcased in a new video.

The project aims to support local businesses, arts, community, and cultural organisations in the area by repurposing vacant spaces and attracting footfall to local high streets.

It has been funded by £500,000 from the West of England Combined Authority’s Recovery Fund with match-funding and support from Bath & North East Somerset Council and Bath BID.

Among the transformed spaces featured in the video is Unit 14 in Midsomer Norton, a community asset regularly used by 30 groups for workshops, meetings, training and skills and community events. It is run by the Midsomer Norton Community Trust.

Keynsham MakeSpace at 2 Riverside Terrace has been fully refurbished as an affordable and accessible space for community activities, encouraging people to use the southern end of the high street. The council is currently managing the space and is inviting expressions of interest for groups wishing to book events.

The Little Lost Robot CIC runs Creative Twerton in the formerly vacant high street units 106 and 107, offering an affordable artists’ residency studio and a artist workshop space. People can drop in and have a go at creative activities and the venue also acts as a warm space with hot food and a playroom. Bath Carnival also uses another former shop on Twerton High Street to prepare community workshops and large scale events.

In Bath, 15 New Bond St has been home to a pop-up shop from Fridays to Sundays and has been used by the council during the rest of the week.

More information about the Vacant Unit Action Project can be found in the council’s place prospectus, Our Future Ambition

Councillor Mark Roper, cabinet member for Economic Development, Regeneration and Growth, said: “This new video is a celebration of how the Vacant Unit Action Project has reinvigorated neighbourhoods, bringing unused properties back into use for the local community. These spaces are proving so important in bringing people together to enjoy activities that are open to everyone. They also make our high streets more inviting and vibrant, supporting local business. Congratulations to everyone involved for making this project a success.” 

Stu Matson, Director of Bath Carnival, said: “This project has not just given us a studio, it’s actually transformed the high street. In the city centre you can see loads of streets with lots of different things happening, which is great as it’s bringing vibrancy back to the city.”