Grants of £2,500 to £10,000 to help you open new premises. Applications open until 11.59pm, Monday 22 May 2023.

 vacant commercial property grant scheme

Deadline extended

Applications must be received by 11.59pm, Monday 22 May 2023.

Successful applicants must start trading from the funded property by Friday 29 September 2023.

We simplified the application and award process in October 2022. If you previously read the guidance notes or application form before this date, please ensure you read the current versions.

As part of our city centre and high streets recovery and renewal programme Go to index.php?Itemid=1106 (opens new window) we've allocated £1.3 million to support small businesses, sole traders, charities, community interest companies (CICs) and arts and culture groups who will bring something different to our city, employ local people, and make Bristol a better place to live for our residents.

Lots of organisations are eligible to apply but we're particularly interested in supporting you if you:

  • employ or serve people from under-represented groups
  • are an accredited Living Wage Employer
  • are improving a building's disabled access and facilities
  • are engaged in creative or cultural activities
  • have a clear commitment to sustainability

This page contains full information on the eligibility criteria and how to apply for this grant funding. The resources linked throughout are:

Email Crover, the grant advisor, for support and guidance on crover@bristol.gov.uk

A man in a shop A woman in a clothes shop Staff in a bar

Who the grant is for

To be considered for this grant funding you'll be the leader of a small business, charity, CIC, arts or cultural group, or operating as a sole trader.

Your organisation will employ fewer than 50 people, have a turnover of £10.2 million or less, and a balance sheet showing £5.1 million or less.

You'll be able to match the funding you're asking for by 20%. For example, if you ask for grant funding of £10,000, you'll need to prove to us that you're spending at least £2,000 of money you have access to from other sources.

You'll either be looking to rent or lease a commercial property in Bristol's city centre or on any of our 46 local high streets, or you've signed a lease or rental agreement for a commercial property within one of these areas in the last 12 weeks, and you have not yet started trading from this property.

You can see the eligible areas and check property postcodes using our interactive map of Bristol's city centre and local high streets Go to https://bcc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=19dccec5f8c44a06b097974ad9f7b647 (opens new window).

How much funding is available

The maximum grant award amounts range from £2,500 to £10,000. The maximum amount you can apply for depends on the length of your lease or rental agreement:

Length of lease or rental agreementMaximum grant amount
28 days to 6 months £2,500
7 to 11 months £3,500
12 to 23 months £5,000
24 to 35 months £7,500
3 years or longer £10,000

What the funding can be spent on

You can use the grant funding to pay for:

  • upcoming building, decorating, or signage works to a property
  • new equipment to be used in the property

You must be able to explain how all the works and equipment you're requesting funding for support your business to trade and provide services.

If you're unsure whether your costs could be covered by this grant funding, email Crover, our grant advisor, on crover@bristol.gov.uk

Grant awards are paid in arrears.

You'll need to be able to spend a minimum of £2,500 and be able to wait up to six weeks to receive payment for eligible invoices from this grant funding.

How to apply

Read the pdf guidance notes Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=2901-guidance-for-vacant-commercial-property-grant-scheme-final&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (651 KB)  first, which contain full eligibility criteria.

When you've read and understood the guidance notes, download the document application form Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=2900-vacant-commercial-property-grant-scheme-application-form&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (2.19 MB) .

You need to send some supporting information when you return your application form. This is explained in the guidance notes. The application form has a checklist to help you prepare everything you need to send us.

To apply, send us your full application by 11.59pm, Monday 22 May 2023.

This must include:

  • the application form with all fields complete
  • a financial statement from the last 30 days proving you have access to 20% of the amount of funding you’re requesting
  • a complete, dated lease for the new property that is signed by all parties

If you're not able to provide us with a complete lease document by 11.59pm on Monday 22 May 2023 we will not be able to offer you funding through this programme.

Support to apply

If you need help  with the guidance notes or application form, email our grant advisor, Crover, on crover@bristol.gov.uk

Crover can support you using email, phone or video call, or, where appropriate, in a face-to-face meeting.

We welcome applications from people of all levels of ability. We're committed to supporting all applicants through the application and award process. If we could help you to apply by making any reasonable adjustments to our process, email Crover about these.

How to find a property

Our commercial property and land page Go to index.php?Itemid=1097 (opens new window) provides information about council property for sale or let.

To look for property in Bristol on the wider commercial market we recommend using Invest Bristol & Bath's property search website. Go to https://www.bristolandbath.co.uk/property-search/ (opens new window)

This inward investment service is managed by the West of England Combined Authority. The service requires you to register but is free for all users.

Realla Go to https://www.realla.co.uk/search/bristol?ln=Bristol&t=locality&lat=51.454513&lon=-2.58791&zoom=14&st=Bristol%2C+UK&loc=Bristol&al2=Bristol+City&al1=England&c=GB&transaction_type=rent (opens new window)and Estate Gazette's Property Link Go to https://propertylink.estatesgazette.com/commercial-property-for-rent/bristol?filters%5Bto_let_price%5D%5Bcurrency%5D=gbp&filters%5Bto_let_price%5D%5Bfrom%5D=&filters%5Bto_let_price%5D%5Bsize_modifier%5D=sqft&filters%5Bto_let_price%5D%5Bto%5D=&sort_direction=desc&sort_field=created_at&view=grid (opens new window) are good examples of private sector search engine for businesses because they only deal in commercial properties, with no residential listings.

There are lots of other property websites owned by third party, private sector companies. You can find these easily on any search engine.

If you are looking for property in a specific area another effective strategy is to visit the area and find potentially vacant properties yourself.

Once you find a property that looks to be vacant, you'll need to find the details for the landlord or managing agent. You can try asking people in the neighbouring commercial and residential properties if they have these details. Otherwise, you will find details for the owner of the property on the government's land registry website Go to https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry (opens new window).

There's a small cost for this service. At the time this information was updated the fee is £3 per property.

Support for businesses from the council

We've created some resources to help you to start or expand your business.

Our starting a new business page Go to index.php?Itemid=1099 (opens new window) provides details of some of the business support available throughout Bristol and links to other council services you may find useful. This page can help both new businesses and existing businesses who are opening new premises.

Our  pdf business start-up and development toolkit Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=1102-business-start-up-and-development-tool-kit&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (641 KB)  offers more detailed information and guidance on many of the aspects businesses should consider when starting or expanding.

If you would like to talk to someone about the different ways the council could support your business, our grant advisor, Crover can discuss what support may be available to you. Email crover@bristol.gov.uk

Meet the successful applicants

We visited some of the people who have already received funding through this grant. See the case studies below to read the interviews between the grant advisor and the business leaders.

Robb Maksimcyzk outside South Central Barbers

pdf South Central Barbers Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=2899-south-central-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (639 KB)
Robb Maksimcyzk (he/him)
3 Marsh Street, BS1 1RT

Trung Trinh and Vicky Hinners outside The Saigon Kitchen

pdf The Saigon Kitchen Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=2898-the-saigon-kitchen-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (658 KB)
Trung Trinh (he/him) and Vicky Hinners (she/her)
25 Zetland Road, BS6 7AH

Sam McKay and Gemini outside Mila

pdf Mila Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=2897-mila-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (924 KB)
Sam McKay (he/they) and Gemini (they/them)
30 Park Street, BS1 5JA

Adam Turpin outside Bank Fitness

pdf The Bank Fitness Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=2896-the-bank-fitness-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (503 KB)
Adam Turpin (he/him)
73 Henleaze Road, BS9 4JS

Ben Lakin inside No Regrets tattoo studio

pdf No Regrets Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=2895-no-regrets-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (668 KB)
Ben Lakin (he/him)
26 Stokes Croft, BS1 3QD

Fergal Doyle outside Fergal Doyle Hair

pdf Fergal Doyle Hair Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=4823-fergal-doyle-hair-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (550 KB)
Fergal Doyle (he/him)
19 Druid Hill, Stoke Bishop, BS9 1EW

Hope Bainbridge outside Hoba

pdf HOBA Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=4824-hoba-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (606 KB)
Hope Bainbridge (she/her)
23- 25 St Augustines Parade, BS1 4UL

Owner Thuong Bui outside Posh Nails

pdf Posh Nails Fishponds Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=4871-posh-nails-fishponds-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (550 KB)
Thuong Bui (she/her)
6 Straits Parade, BS16 2LA

Matthew Austin outside Mayk

pdf Mayk Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=4872-mayk-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (538 KB)
Matthew Austin (he/him)
The Galleries, Bristol city centre

Directors Ben, Don and Josie outside Cotto

pdf Cotto Go to index.php?option=com_docman&view=document&alias=5116-cotto-case-study&category_slug=documents&Itemid=159 (opens new window) (778 KB)
31 St. Stephen's Street, BS1 1JX