55 votes



This idea is a finalist.
How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together? »

The Place Station

What problem are you trying to address? :
Cuts to public services e.g. libraries; threats to the sustainability of community organisations due to funding cuts; under-use or inappropriate use of land and buildings;

How will your idea work? : The Place Station introduces owners of land and buildings across the UK to social and community entrepreneurs with ideas for transforming their local area - providing a web resource where people can: • Search for land and buildings • Add a Place they'd like to see owned and managed by the community • Add an Idea for transforming local services • Propose new uses for available land and buildings • Comment on and offer to support an Idea or Proposal for a Place • Find pro-bono supporters where they live to put their Ideas and Proposals into practice By bringing together ideas, opportunities and people, The Place Station aims to encourage new and innovative use of buildings and land for community benefit

How will it provide a solution to the Challenge? : The Place Station will make the public more aware of the assets that are available to them - and opportunities for using those assets for community benefit (potentially through asset transfer and/or community enterprise models). Although community based organisations have a long history of managing/owning assets, it is arguably only in recent years that the momentum behind community asset transfer has gathered pace. Some of the key milestones in the evolving policy landscape over the last few years include:. • The recent drive to promote asset transfer began with the Quirk Review Report: Making Assets Work, published in May 2007, which explored the barriers and incentives affecting the transfer of public assets to community management and ownership. The report concluded that: “the benefits of community management and ownership of public assets can outweigh the risks and often the opportunity costs in appropriate circumstances”. • The current Government first launched the Big Society as a policy programme as ‘Building the Big Society’ on 18th May 2010. The Big Society has been presented as the alternative to ‘big government’, with the Prime Minister saying the Government is “committed to a radical shift of power from Westminster to local people”. The Big Society and decentralisation message attempts to re-balance the relationship between the government and the governed. The twin track themes behind the Big Society philosophy are: A drive to ensure a bigger role for ‘civil society’ and to encourage more citizen involvement and community action; A drive to diversify public service delivery and to increase community and voluntary sector provision of more citizen-focused services. • The Localism Act is intended to devolve power from central government to individuals, communities and local councils. The Act is a key piece of legislation in the government’s drive for decentralisation. Included within it is the Community Right to Bid which aims to ensure important assets remain in public use and stay part of community life. Voluntary and community organisations and parish councils can nominate an asset to be included on a ‘list of assets of community value’ which the local authority is required to maintain.

What is the stage of development? What help and investment you need to build it?: The Place Station website is currently under design and we hope to launch it in April 2012. As well as being a 'dating agency' for ideas and assets, we are in discussion with various professional bodies like RICS about encouraging planning, design and building professionals to offer their services to help make local ideas into reality. However, we need help to populate The Place Station with data, to properly test and trial the website, and to market it widely to communities, community organisations, professionals, local authorities, and parish & town councils.

How will you use Ordnance Survey data in your solution? : Council tax payers can already look up online some of the 180,000 assets listed so far. Ordnance Survey data is of incredible value to us in populating the website so communities can identify the full range of land and buildings that may have the potential to become thriving community assets

The Place Station introduces owners of land and buildings across the UK to social and community entrepreneurs with ideas for transforming their local area - providing a web resource where people can:

• Search for land and buildings

• Add a Place they'd like to see owned and managed by the community

• Add an Idea for transforming local services

• Propose new uses for available land and buildings

• Comment on and offer to support an Idea or Proposal for a Place

• Find pro-bono supporters where they live to put their Ideas and Proposals into practice

The Place Station will facilitate growth in community-owned assets and enterprises – helping local communities to address their challenges (and to take advantage of the new Community Right to Bid). It will also facilitate ‘meanwhile use’ - the temporary use of vacant buildings or land for a socially beneficial purpose until such a time that they can be brought back into commercial use again. It makes practical use of the ‘pauses’ in property processes, giving the space over to uses that can contribute to quality of life and better places whilst the search for a commercial use is ongoing. Empty spaces are a blight to communities, a financial drain to owners and stimulate wider civic problems. To us they are an opportunity.

The Place Station has been developed by the Locality – we help to empower local people and organisations to transform land and buildings into vibrant community spaces whilst supporting the development of a thriving third sector. We are the leading provider of expert advice, guidance and support concerning the transfer of under-used land and buildings from the public sector to community ownership and management - helping organisations to develop those assets and deliver long-term social, economic and environmental benefits.

Submitted by steve.clare 2 years ago

Vote Activity Show

(latest 20 votes)


  1. Status Changed from Shortlisted to Finalists
    1 year ago
  2. Status Changed from Active to Shortlisted
    2 years ago
  3. The idea was posted
    2 years ago

Comments (18)

  1. As someone who has recently been involved in setting up a community owned woodland I can see the potential of this approach. Great to see there is support for turning aspiration into action. Looks like it could work well with the Collaborative Neighbourhood Community Planning idea I've posted too.

    2 years ago
  2. This sounds really interesting and positive. I know a few projects in different areas doing similar work - will you be able to work with them at local level as well as via a national website? It feels like those local connections are what tend to make places work.

    2 years ago
  3. steve.clare Idea Submitter

    Hi Morag

    Because Locality is a membership body (and works closely with other sector networks), our aim would be that local community groups actually drive this process. By the way, I should have said a prototype is already on the web and we're currently working on Version 2 which is what I'm seeking support for.

    2 years ago
    1. Hi Steve, is there a version of the prototype that is available online? I had quick Google but couldn't find anything that loaded.

      2 years ago
    2. Thanks Steve

      I'm pretty certain GMCVO is a member of locality - we have certainly worked together before - so it would be good to have a chat about this as i'm afraid it had passed me by, will certainly direct the local communities we know to the website as i think it could add to the existing data and exciting work they are doing; identifying land ownership can often be a stumbling block. Cheers.

      2 years ago
  4. This sounds very interesting to me in light of a number of projects I've been involved with. One of the major stumbling blocks has been the lack of transparency around land ownership. It seems that councils and town centre managers also come up against this barrier too, as evidenced by some discussions I've had with people around the Portas Review.

    2 years ago
  5. steve.clare Idea Submitter

    Hi Spencer

    The early version (which is over-complicated but has taught us a lot) can be found at www.theplacestation.org.uk/ - I'm assured it's still working although I've just tried to open it and couldn't (evidence we need a bit of help???)

    2 years ago
    1. Hi Spencer - unfortunately our server had failed, but back up and running now at www.theplacestation.org.uk

      2 years ago
  6. Thanks - great to see it in action - and I've updated my profile as my first name is Ben!

    2 years ago
  7. Great idea.

    I wonder if this could be expanded to let owners of empty domestic properties who need help to refurbish or let them, connect with community organisations bidding into the £30m Community Grants programme to fund refurbishment?

    2 years ago
    1. steve.clare Idea Submitter

      Hi Mike

      In principle this could be exactly the sort of added value that The Place Station could offer. However, as you'll probably know, the closing date for the Empty Homes Community Grants programme is late April so probably a bit late this time round!

      2 years ago
  8. steve.clare Idea Submitter

    Hi Mike

    Follow up: though as some EHCG bids will not have identified the empty homes at this time, yes - we could try and link community groups with empty homes added to The Place Station by local people (which is what I suspect you meant in the first place...)

    2 years ago
  9. There's already an interesting APP produced by the people behind The Great British Property Scandal which might be of interest - http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-great-british-property-scandal/articles/home/ - allows people to submit information about empty homes. Regrettably, despite asking the question, they are not minded to release the information solicited as open data for usage by others.

    I think it's also worthwhile contemplating how to maintain some kind of focus. The Place Station is currently concerned with 'assets of community value' - affording councils the opportunity to post forthcoming lists that they must publish in keeping with provisions within the Localism Act. Notably, residential properties are exempt from those provisions.

    2 years ago
  10. Really love this idea it has heaps of potential.

    I have some really cool thoughts and ideas to add,be great to both get through to next stage, as would like to colloborateon this one.

    2 years ago
  11. steve.clare Idea Submitter

    Hi lollywould

    Glad to see your enthusiam - would love to talk further about your ideas

    2 years ago
  12. steve.clare Idea Submitter

    Hi Morag

    We'd be very happy to talk to GMCVO re working together. As you note, we do have an existing connection.

    2 years ago
    1. splendid, i'll be in touch.

      2 years ago
  13. Love this idea. Good luck

    2 years ago