Meanwhile use in London

In a city that is ever evolving, meanwhile space presents an opportunity for creativity, entrepreneurship, and to use land more efficiently. This project examined the challenges and opportunities in realising the potential of meanwhile spaces.

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‘Meanwhile use’ activities are diversifying in terms of uses, sites, and brokering. Digital platforms such as Appear Here link major retail brands with available spaces. Public bodies are exploring the potential for meanwhile use to provide space for uses often squeezed out of high-value area, including artist studios and affordable retail space. Developers have also realised the potential of meanwhile activity. They can animate new spaces by attracting cultural activities, and to secure income at the early stages of a project.

Despite a large amount of coverage around the opportunities and successes of meanwhile use, there had been little research looking at how much space is given over at any time to meanwhile use, the types of activity taking place, and the pros and cons of the increasing amount of meanwhile activity across the capital.

For the purpose of this project, we defined meanwhile use as the temporary use of a space awaiting redevelopment.

Nicolas Bosetti, Research Manager, Centre for London

Research question

This project explored the following questions:

  • How can temporary use make a greater contribution to the city?
  • What are the barriers to widening participation in meanwhile use activity, particularly in terms of planning and licensing?
  • Should we promote the use of temporary or ‘in-between spaces’ for other purposes than commercial?
  • Are there unintended consequences from expanding use of in-between spaces?


We used desk research to identify existing London trends in meanwhile use, studies of impact and value. Case studies of meanwhile uses in London were developed and tested out through roundtables and interviews with landowners, local authorities, businesses, residents and project leads.

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Major Sponsor

This project has been generously supported by


Meanwhile Use

18.00–20.30 12 July 2018

Venue: U+I, 7A Howick Place, SW1P 1DZ