Working with Property Owners

Through the innovative use of empty buildings to establish ‘pop-up’ performance spaces and creative hubs, Theatre Delicatessen has evolved into one of the leading lights of London Off West End theatre.

Behind this success is the collaborative model Theatre Delicatessen has developed with property owners and developers. By taking a ‘peppercorn’ lease on empty buildings, Theatre Delicatessen (trading name of the charity ‘CurvingRoad Ltd’) is able to apply for business rate relief. This results in significant savings for the building owner during this interim period. In return, Theatre Delicatessen seeks to agree upon a fair but modest proportion of the Empty Rates saving to fund their theatre making.

Through this collaboration, the building owner is able to directly benefit from a reduced business rates bill, whilst we at Theatre Delicatessen can continue doing what we do best – creating groundbreaking, breathtaking theatrical performances.


“It has been a pleasure being associated with Theatre Delicatessen.
During our pre-development period the building has been kept secure and vibrant and its theatrical use has gained much support from the local community – including the local councillors.
A consequent, and wholly legitimate, saving of Empty Business Rates
has been the icing on the artistic cake.”

Alistair Watson, Managing Director, Welbeck Land

Collaboration with Property Owners

The model of collaboration is based on the premise that Theatre Delicatessen takes a ‘peppercorn’ lease on the property. The lease would include suitable termination and access protection to the owner. Theatre Delicatessen fully recognises that redevelopment will be the priority.

Under the agreement, Theatre Delicatessen will make an application to the local authority for mandatory rate relief for the building. This relief is awarded at 80% of the rates bill – with the option of the local authority granting full 100% relief, which Theatre Delicatessen would actively pursue.

As part of the agreement, the building owner will cover the costs of the residual 20% business rates bill – the building owner paying Theatre Delicatessen such sums on account which Theatre Delicatessen will then use to pay such costs to the relevant authority. This agreement would be detailed in a side letter to the lease.

In addition, Theatre Delicatessen would request a contribution of a further 25% of the total rate saving. This will be used to contribute towards the costs of:

  • Setting up the building as a ‘pop-up’ creative hub
  • Ongoing utilities, including light, power and heating as well as lift and fire alarm maintenance
  • Company staffing, to ensure the safe and smooth running of the building

This will enable Theatre Delicatessen to make full use of the space and meet the company’s charitable objectives, whilst ensuring significant savings for the building owner.

During the tenancy, Theatre Delicatessen would take responsibility for management of the building. We have an exemplary track record in safely and responsibly using empty buildings as theatre venues, and the company takespride in a responsible and professional approach to our tenancies.

Over the last five years we have developed excellent working relationships with the Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade and City of Westminster Council, ensuring professional and safe management of the buildings we occupy.

“Theatre Delicatessen is an extremely energetic and pro-active organization.
Their presence at 35 Marylebone High Street has certainly brought something quite unique to the area. They are a refreshing group to work with and it will of course be a disappointment and loss to see them go but we certainly wish them every success in their next venture, wherever that may be. We would be very happy to work with them in the future should the right situation arise.”

Simon Baynham, Property Director, The Howard de Walden Estate

Benefits of working with Theatre Delicatessen

Through making use of whole buildings for valid, demonstrable charitable purposes, working with Theatre Delicatessen offers building owners the potential to:

  • Make 80% savings on Empty Rates, through charitable occupation – Theatre Delicatessen saved Scottish Widows and Welbeck Land over £600,000 last year
  • Reduce Community Infrastructure Levy payments by maintaining occupation prior to redevelopment
  • Represent real corporate social responsibility
  • Make meaningful contributions to public art/planning strategies

Our partnerships also offer fantastic opportunities for positive public relations – both with the local community, and more widely in the property and arts sectors.

In the past Theatre Delicatessen has been profiled alongside previous landlords The Property Merchant Group in publications as diverse as Property Week and Morning Star, contributed to articles in The Economist and written about collaborations between the Arts and Business Sector for The Guardian.

“When I ask why more theatre companies don’t do this, Brewster and Smith – who juggle young children, commutes, and multiple collaborators – grin wryly and reel off the skills they’ve had to master in pursuit of their dream. It’s impressive: but not nearly as impressive as what they’ve achieved here.”

Time Out, Interview with Jessica Brewster and Roland Smith of Theatre Delicatessen