St Albans community groups kicked out of new office premises
PUBLISHED: 06:37 04 July 2014
Charities, community and non profit groups who relocated their stock, props and even a radio station into empty offices in St Albans are urgently seeking a new home after being issued a notice to quit the premises.
Their sudden departure is being forced as a result of having to make way for construction of 65 one and two bedroom flats in an eight storey office block.
The organisations, which include community station Radio Verulam, took up an invitation to occupy space on eight floors of Ziggurat House, Grosvenor Road, after seeing an advertisement in March this year.
In it, Centric Community Projects called for tenants who would otherwise be unable to expand their operations, to move into the building free of charge, including the cost of rates and utility bills.
Among those taking up the offer was Foot in the Door Theatre, a small non-profit company focussed on providing free open air shows.
Costumes and props were, until the recent move to Ziggurat, previously stored in members’ garages and lofts.
Creative director Kate Raw said the group had been “excited” to store everything in one place.
But it was made clear to Centric that if the accommodation was for less than a year, it would not be worth moving into.
She added: “They verbally assured us that although the initial contract was for six months, it was more likely going to be around two years, but at least 18 months.
“This was fantastic news and we moved in, in March, spending money on office equipment and internet and phone bills on a six-month contract.”
However just four months later the group has been asked to leave ahead of construction work.
There are at least eight other charities and non-profit groups in the building, including Radio Verulam which is also desperately looking for temporary accommodation while its studios are being revamped at its Hatfield Road base.
The station built a temporary studio at Ziggurat in May. Chairman Nick Hazell said: “We had hoped to stay longer but knew it would be limited.”
A spokeswoman for Centric said it was “deeply regretful [we have] been forced to issue vacation notices, but unfortunately this was totally out of our control”.
The organisation is a charity that negotiates with landlords to provide free space for at least one year.
But the landlord’s development programme was brought forward, and Centric was served notice for possession. The spokeswoman added: “This is a very unusual situation.”
If you can help Radio Verulam with temporary accommodation please contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org Or if you can provide storage or office space for the theatre, please email: email@example.com