Agenda item

Scrutiny Review of affordable workspace and support for the creative sector

Report of Scrutiny Affordable Workspace Panel

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report which presented the findings and recommendations of the Scrutiny Panel Review into the need for affordable workspace across the District and support for the creative sector.

 

The Head of Regeneration highlighted that the Scrutiny Panel Review, which was chaired by Councillor Joanna Carter, was in response to the large concentration of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) including micro enterprises in the local economy and their need for affordable workspace to enable them to prosper; and secondly, interest in best practice examples from other local authorities that the Council could consider to better support the creative economy in the District.

 

The Head of Regeneration discussed the Panel’s objectives and the results of its findings, which were detailed in the report.

 

The Committee queried whether there was scope to encourage mentoring for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Officers confirmed that mentoring was encouraged and business support services were provided.

 

The Chair of the Scrutiny Panel Review thanked the Head of Regeneration and his team for putting together the report and for facilitating positive meetings of the Panel.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That Council be recommended to adopt a position statement formalising its commitment to supporting the growth of the creative sector;

2.    That Council be recommended to formally adopt South East Creative Economy Network’s approach to defining affordable workspace;

 

3.    That Council be encouraged to investigate the potential for Meanwhile Use Leases for the temporary use of Council assets, subject to statutory requirements and prior to resolution 5;

 

4.    That Council be encouraged to explore the potential to facilitate the development of new “open workspace” within the District;

 

5.    That Council be recommended to grant a one off financial allocation of £10,000 to investigate the feasibility of Meanwhile Use Leases, including a full business case, to recognise the considerations of the cost of upgrading existing properties to lettable standards in line with existing legislation, ongoing maintenance requirements and any opportunity cost arising from higher value uses being lost within the District, subject to the prior completion of resolution 3;

 

6.    That the Council’s Regeneration service continue to work closely with Locate East Sussex and other partner agencies to ensure they continue to collaborate effectively with South East Creative Cultural and Digital Support and the creative sector, be noted; and

 

7.    That all services across the Council continue to raise awareness and inform residents and enterprises of the business support available to them through their business engagement and marketing methods including casework, meetings involving the business community, Council website and District News, be noted.

 

Reasons:

 

1)    To enhance the Council’s commitment to growth & prosperity with specific reference to the local creative sector.

2)    To capitalise on the extensive strategic collaborative work already underway by South East Creative Economy Network and in South East Creative Cultural and Digital Support, in the South East Local Enterprise Partnership area, which the Council is committed to supporting and working with, to address barriers for the creative sector, including the shortage of appropriate workspace and in business support and advice.

3)    To ensure that existing external agencies and partners are aware of the needs of all aspects of the diverse economy of Lewes District, including emerging opportunities for collaboration with South East Creative Cultural and Digital Support to create a more fit-for-purpose commercial property solution for the sector.

4)    Although the creative sector is an important part of the local economy of the Lewes District, the sector is responsible for a relatively small proportion of total employment. Support to grow the sector could be beneficial in achieving the Council’s Growth and Prosperity objectives.

5)    To recognise that Meanwhile Use Leases can offer benefits to both the Council and the local economy, but that such uses may have an opportunity cost attached should higher values uses come forward.

 

 

Supporting documents: