Hammond Associates is the UK’s leading charity property provider using empty commercial premises. We are made up of a small team of industry professionals based in Leeds, West Yorkshire and Stirling, Scotland and have a simple mission: to give back to the community and help others by revitalising empty commercial property and bringing the high-street back to life; all while cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships between landlords and charitable tenants.
Our method is far more effective than other routes of short-term occupations, and the work that we do in bringing together commercial landlords with vacant premises and charitable organisations with a need for temporary space goes far beyond the surface layer benefits of reduced commercial rates and fewer boarded-up shops. Lasting relationships are built and lives are changed with each new charitable and artistic project that springs to life within the walls of these spaces, and although the organisations that we work with initially do not have the funds available to pay commercial rents and service charges, this can change once they have become established within their space.
In addition to the countless vibrant, uplifting and inspiring art exhibitions showcased by artist groups that have helped increase public footfall and rejuvenate the all too often tired looking high streets, many charitable tenants lay their focus within providing a comfortable environment for people of all walks of life to develop critical life skills, express themselves, and fulfil their own personal ambitions. As nurturing the well-being and mental health of society’s most vulnerable people is paramount in society’s progression, their work offers a helping hand to all, filling a vital social void so commonly left behind due to local authorities’ funding cuts.
So, how are Hammond Associates able to make this happen? Allow us to explain:
The business was first established in 2009 when founder and director Paul Hammond, who has over 30 years’ experience in construction and project management, was asked to assist a charity in finding an empty high street premises for them to advertise their services and act as a drop-in centre – the challenge being that the charity couldn’t afford commercial rents and associated service charges.
As part of the Leeds Property Forum working party and tasked with tackling the issue of empty shops and offices on the high street, Paul was advised to look at charitable reliefs and pop-up shops. Whilst undertaking the project, he gained an insight into the needs of similar organisations for a high street presence.
This was a fundamental awakening to the needs of small, local, community-based charities to source low or no cost accommodation at a time when commercial property owners faced major changes in business rate charges on empty properties.
After much research into the legal aspects of bringing together these two basic needs of supply and demand, coupled with the economic climate pertaining in 2009, the decision to encompass this idea within Paul’s existing business was made.
Hammond Associates started out working exclusively with arts charities, however with continued government funding cuts, more and more local authorities were also asking if they could procure spaces for small community-based charities.
And so, 12 years and over 8,000 properties later, the company’s success has resulted in Hammond Associates having expanded their operations to now include a dedicated Scottish Office run by director Jayne Smith.
Jayne has over 30 years’ experience working in the advertising and marketing industry, and in her spare time works for many volunteer organisations and local charities and has hands-on experience of the problems associated with lack of support in the community.
As the company has grown, Jayne has focussed on locating and viewing properties, and interviewing artists and charities, as well as organising and managing all the documentation required to make the whole process seamless.
The positive impact of our work is huge and is felt not only by the individual artists and charities that occupy the spaces, but also by the wider locality. From performance nights and fashion shows to art exhibitions and music studios, the projects and workshops shared with the public help to bring people together and enliven a sense of true community spirit that is so often void in today’s modern society.
One such example is that of a once empty retail unit in Wester Hailes, Scotland, which has been transformed into a thriving baby studio by arts and early years organisation, Starcatchers.
Their mission is simple – to inspire young children by including them in live performances and creative experiences that fulfil their right to access a rich arts and cultural life no matter where they live or their background.
Artists Kerry Cleland and Katy Wilson of Starcatchers noticed that one of the central meeting points for the local community was Westside Plaza and so, as a result of some creative thinking, the idea of a dedicated baby studio space was born. They frequently run pop-up events throughout Wester Hailes in partnership with other similar organisations and have since begun hosting ‘Starcatchers Saturdays’ sessions that aim to bring local families in the community together and enjoy free creative play activities with their little ones.
Starcatchers’ Chief Executive, Rhona, said:
Hammond Associates is changing the face of high streets, shopping centres, and retail parks throughout the UK one property at a time, and our vision has seen no end of growth and regeneration in the local communities we’re all a part of.
So, next time you’re out visiting your local high street, why not see if you can spot one of the many groups out there spreading community love?
Or, if you are or know of someone who is a commercial landlord looking for tenants to temporarily occupy empty premises, why not get in touch with our friendly team and start your journey to a better future for us all.