Centres overview
Business plan
Legal structure
More help

Choosing the centre building - if any

Those aiming to set up a Community Resource Centre normally find themselves approaching the vexed question of premises from one of two angles.

In both cases there is a risk of becoming too "building focussed". Remember that the most important aspect of a Community Resource Centre is Community: the people it is there to help and the activity and opportunities it generates. Size isn't everything. A prestigious premises is not necessarily the recipe for success - although whatev the size here will be similar key issues to be considered.

Successful telecentres have been started from little more than a lean-to on someone's garage. You can run public IT access from a corner in a small Post Office, village hall or a library. Given the right opportunities, some have started up in style, for example KC3 in Gloucestershire. Others, like WREN, have started small and expanded gradually.

Focussed on a building?

If you are hoping to acquire the lease or freehold of a building, and you are operating as a community group, it is highly advisable to form a legally recognised body (link to Legal Structure) to hold and manage the asset.

A building can present many different possibilities and arouse different emotions in those who focus on its potential. Decide what is your main aim or intention, or your group will risk splitting into those whose aims could turn out to be conflicting: for example those whose primary vision is community IT access, those who want to preserve or create a general community space, those who are business-minded and those who want to preserve a community heritage.

Many efforts flounder on these points. Consider preservation versus practical use and potential income versus affordable access. The best way to do this is to work through the Business Planning process - at least far enough to see if using the building is feasible. There are many good printed resources and books on the subject.

If you get into difficulties consider getting help from an outside expert: an architect, a business advisor or community development consultant. (see more help)

An idea looking for a home?

If you do not have a building in mind you are, in many ways, better off than those who do. You are free to plan, prioritise and cost your project, then look for premises that fit the bill. Remember you can share premises - see below for sharing and hosting.

Key issues

Some of the important things to consider about premises are listed below, with links to furher information:

  • Access: how will people find you, get to you, get in easily?
  • Legalities: health and safety and other regulations with which you must comply.
  • Flexible spaces: the different uses you have have within the centre.

Sharing and hosting: could you set up in someone else's building - or let space if you have more than you need?