After a few months of quietly working away at getting the next steps for Makespace done, Laura has written a new update on the state of things.

It contains a lot of information about how things are being set-up, and should give you some idea of the what is taking up our time at the moment.

Read it over on the Makespace message board on –  the highlights on the Space follow here:
Progress on space

* We’ve established with the university planning people that we probably do not need to apply for change of use – this is great news!

* We looked at a range of possible solicitors; we want our legal advice to be robust as we are doing something unusual, but at the same time we hoped to save some money here if possible. So we’ve been in long running negotiations with various providers to get the best deal for quality service. This week we’ve received an acceptable quote and we are moving ahead to commission the solicitors in question to get started on the most urgent work (lease with the university; membership terms of use).

* We have set up book-keeping and are now commissioning an accountant (this was delayed as some of the legal service providers we looked at might have offered accountancy too, but in the end we are getting this service separately). We already have bank and paypal accounts, and a subscription platform lined up 🙂

* We’ve engaged an insurance broker who has succeeded after many efforts in getting us at least 2 insurers who are willing to quote. One quote is with us now for review (many pages to read, detailing the requirements for the policy e.g. works that must be done, conditions of operation, exclusions, and so on) and one we are have provided yet more information and are waiting for a quote now. As well as our own insurance for public liability, contents and so on, we also need to pay for additional buildings risk for the University.

* We’ve formally agreed to pay the University’s legal costs around setting up the lease and expect to start paying for their solicitors very soon (first invoice expected any time now)

* We’ve almost completed a list of works which are needed for the space. This is a prerequisite for the lease and any pre-lease access we may have.

* We’ve had quotes for access control and security systems, and will shortly acquire quotes for fire systems and building works.

* We’ve had a walk through to talk about fire safety and related issues (note that these interact with access control!) and the works necessary in the space to meet requirements. It is surprising that fire detection and protection in the space is presently so far off code, and with swathes of university staff having taken voluntary redundancy as part of cost cutting measures, we are dealing with dreadfully understaffed departments and even outsourced contractors to resolve these issues – so it’s been awfully slow until recent weeks. There have also been delays in this because of the uncertain access situation, which has been to and fro for a while – see below. For fire safety we need to have routes which are suitable for the various numbers of people who may be in the space (with wide enough doors of the right type and so on), and also for people in other parts of the building who may need to use parts of our space as a fire exit. Plus there’s fire and smoke detection, ventilation, emergency lighting, signage, door fittings (break bars, break glass, interactions with the access control and security systems), fire zoning (e.g. reinforced doors/walls, wired glass where needed, fireproofing of floors, blocked holes, checks on trunking and vents)…

* We have been exploring many other issues which need to get resolved before we can get the full lease, e.g. connections and metering of all utilities to the site; telephone and internet access (existing systems and whether we can use them; and/or provision of new systems); emergency lighting; disabled access provision. These can get complex! For example: There is network cabling through the space – one angle there is that it might be usable by us, if we can get permissions. But we also have to consider risks to the cable itself as it runs through the space, as some of it is used by other groups in the building, and uninterrupted operation of the cables forms part of the business continuity planning for those groups.

* There has been extensive discussion and negotiation about shared access with other users of the building, in terms of shared entry doors and foyers, car parks, toilets, disabled toilets, disabled access, fire exit routes & secured areas, storage, etc. These are gradually getting resolved; since the building has other tenants moving in and out and planning works (all university people) the contact points and priorities of the other parties have sometimes changed too, making this a moving target, but we are getting close to having decisions on all of these points now. Indeed our meeting today with estate management and the fire safety officer suggests we are now closing on a set of access decisions which will work.

Community update

Whilst Laura and the other directors are busy working on legal and financial stuff, there’s nothing to stop you being out there and doing things! Please do feel free to organise meet ups, hack days, whatever, amongst yourselves – that’s what the Meetup group is good for.

There will be more things you can do to help the process of setting up Makespace soon, and we’ll let you all know as soon as that is the case. We’d love to have more involvement, but the current work on health and safety and legal stuff is high risk and the directors cannot delegate this.

February Makespace Update

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