Community toolkit: register as a Welcoming Space
3. Physical space and location
This section covers all the steps you need to consider regarding physical space and the location of your venue.
A warm, welcome space should be free to use and encourage people to stay as long as they want. It also needs to be a friendly, comfortable environment where people feel at ease and at home.
You'll need to decide which opening hours are feasible for your group or venue, including whether there is scope to open in the evenings and/or at weekends. This will depend on your resources.
We understand that extended opening hours may not be appropriate for every Welcoming Space due to the additional costs. There is no expectation for you to provide anything beyond your regular offer and we appreciate any support you can give to your local community.
To ensure good physical access to your space you should consider:
- the approach to the building, including signage and dropped kerbs
- access to the entrance (ramps, steps, handrails etc)
- doors (exterior and interior) with accessible routes and dignified access for all
- easy access to lifts and stairlifts
- keeping aisles, corridors, doorways and spaces free of obstruction and with space for wheelchair and buggy users
- quick exit routes from the building for people with disabilities in the event of an emergency
- alarm systems suitable for alerting the hearing impaired
- critical distances, such as the width of corridors, aisles and security sensors
Room sizes will vary. When you're planning how you lay out your space, you’ll need to consider:
- the maximum safe number of people you can have in the space
- how people will move around the room
- whether you're able to have separate spaces for different groups, for example school children or families with young children
For more information see the warm and safe spaces section.
You may need to factor in your own heating costs and projected spend. This will depend on:
- the type of space
- the size of your space
- energy prices, which fluctuate over time
Charity organisations like The Centre for Sustainable Energy provide tips on how to save energy in community buildings. Their documents include ideas such as closing curtains, checking your roof insulation and fitting low-cost secondary glazing on non-opening windows.
To help community centres work out how much their typical heating costs could be, The Centre for Sustainable Energy also offers a heating cost list that estimates the heat demand of a hypothetical community building from different appliances.
For energy saving advice from Buckinghamshire Council see Saving energy and tackling climate change at home and in other buildings.
Energy prices can change, so make sure you check your latest energy tariff to manage your heating costs. You can find out your exact rate on your latest statement.