Succinct version: we now have an actual final agreed date for the sealing of the lease, which is Thursday 6th September. I believe this is more likely to be honoured than the previous agreed dates…

Long version:

I’ve been waiting to send out an update in the hope of having some definite news and information to share, and unfortunately, as ever, things have dragged on at the University end and my regime of calling them every day has had only limited effect.

We have a finalised schedule of condition; this is a big document of photos of the space showing the state it is in. It particularly records the less good bits – damp patches, missing carpet tiles, ducting patched with duct tape, and so on. When the lease ends, we’ll need to ensure the general condition of the space is no worse than shown here.

We also now have final costings for utlities which aren’t on meters. Specifically, we will need to pay for gas (heating), water, and some electricity (to cover lighting circuits for example) even though the 13A ring main and 3phase circuits are now on check meters (so we can pay exactly for what we use). These figures aren’t as scary as we thought they might be! This is mostly because our space as a fraction of the whole building is fairly small, and so the dreadful energy performance rating doesn’t matter so much.

We have a plan showing the space and the area around it, and a closeup plan showing the details of the space, which I’ve marked up with the positions of the alterations we plan. (I hope to get versions of the plan showing our area, and the access rights, today or tomorrow…) This has been a particular pain, as the markup needs to be on a plan extracted from the University’s main digital plans of the block. When the surveyor tried to generate our plan, errors were found in the underlying main plan, and this meant things had to be fixed before we could proceed. Even then, the version I have marked up still shows the space inaccurately (for instance, showing doors that are not there, and missing doors that are there).

I’m currently working on our annual accounts for 2011. I also have a revised budget – this looks reasonable based on our estimated costs and membership levels, and I expect to be updating it frequently in the coming weeks as more costs become definite. I hope we’ll get to the end of the year without any cashflow problems, but we’ll be operating carefully during the fitout phase before we have regular membership income coming in just to make sure.

So, the lease has dragged out, with various delays outside my control, such as university lawyers going on holiday and failing to hand our file to a deputy, postponing/cancelling meetings, and so on. As of today, I expect to get revised versions of the lease and licence to alter tonight or tomorrow, which I hope will be OK for us (but of course will need review from our lawyer to confirm). I also expect the remaining plans tonight or tomorrow. We have agreed to try for next Thursday for the sealing of the lease, but we know that is tight with the amount of work outstanding and the bank holiday, and so a last possible date for the sealing has been agreed as September 6th.

However, the licence to alter has run into some last minute problems. The University lawyer wants this to be detailed down to exact part numbers of each item (eg smoke detectors, card readers) which I don’t have final details for. So we may have to separate out the lease and the licence; we’ll get the lease done by the 6th, but if necessary the licence to alter can be sealed a week or two later, once I have the level of detail the lawyer wants to see. This is a real pain; I’ve asked repeatedly what level of detail was needed for this and been told that something less specific would probably be fine, but now we’re down to details the lawyer is more particular. Because of the epic delay since I last got quotes for the various bits of work, and because I’ve not wanted to antagonise the contractors by demanding requotes all the time, the quotes I have are all out of date and I’ll need to get new ones including final part numbers etc. This was stuff I was going to have to do anyway, but it’s brought forward now a little bit and become part of the critical path – it will be my top priority now after the lawyers! Nonetheless, we can get the lease and access sorted, and the licence should be able to follow quickly after that. With the licence to alter in place we can start fit out. Note that we don’t have to put everything in the licence to alter – if we want to do more alterations later, we can get another one in place, but I want to get everything critical (security, fire, kitchen) in this one so we don’t have any more delays before we can open.

Our liability insurance is going to start from the 6th too. I’ve not felt confident enough about any of the previous committed lease dates to activate this in case we ended up wasting money.

Finally, this Friday I’ll be meeting our wonderful supporters Ideaspace for a catchup. Without their generous support we wouldn’t have got this far, and certainly wouldn’t get much further.

As ever, thanks for your support and patience – only a few days left I hope!

The actual final agreed lease date

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