Vacant town centre shops brought back into use

Open Doors bannerSlough is partnering with a new government scheme to support the changing face of the high street by welcoming community groups to make use of vacant spaces.

As we look forward to the exciting development plans for Slough town centre, this forms part of the council’s plans for ‘meanwhile use’.

The Open Doors project, in partnership with the Meanwhile Foundation, will match landlords with community groups offering vital local services. So far, 17 community groups have applied to use the space.

The scheme will help community projects transform unused retail units into a venue for community use, including business start up space for local entrepreneurs who are not ready to take commercial space and community activities such as book clubs, wellbeing classes, business support sessions and mentoring.

Josie Wragg, chief executive of Slough Borough Council, said: “We are really excited Slough has been chosen to trial this project, and are looking forward to seeing all the innovative ideas that come forward from community groups in how they propose to use the space.

“We welcome projects of this nature which encourage people to come together, take part in activities and events and be involved in the future of our town centre.”

The activities on offer will support wellbeing and personal development opportunities for residents.

Open Doors pilot cropped

Open Doors in Slough will be located in unit 2 of Queensmere Shopping Centre on the High Street. Work is underway to transform it into a (self-managed) space available for community projects and it is expected to be ready for use from this month (July). Pictured right outside the shop is Chris Shaw, centre manager of Queensmere Observatory and Josie Wragg, Slough Borough Council Chief Executive.

Not only will this make our high street look and feel better, it helps support a vibrant and thriving community scene, complementing the council’s #NotAlone campaign to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Slough is one of only five sites to be selected for the Open Doors pilot scheme.

The Open Doors team is now inviting applications from community groups who have a great idea that would make positive use of the space and encourage people to come together.

The space can be used by a community group for anything from an hour a week for a couple of months, to every day for a whole year.

If you have an idea that would encourage people to come down to the High Street, or want to get involved on the project as a freelance project assistant, visit the Open Doors website to find out more and apply.

The space will be offered free of charge to successful applicants for up to 12 months.

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