Places for London helps tenants become more sustainable with new business skills training

07 March 2024
"We strongly believe that it is our role as a landlord to help our tenants succeed and continue to play an integral part of their local communities - when they thrive, we do too"
  • Training will be provided over the course of a year, working with Heart of the City
  • Places for London has also updated its standard lease to include new clauses on the environment and the London Living Wage
  • Both initiatives form part of Places for London's aim to be an inclusive and sustainable landlord

Places for London - Transport for London's (TfL) property company - is piloting a new business skills training programme for tenants across its estate as part of its commitment to being a responsible and sustainable landlord, encouraging inclusive growth across its estate and building on the extensive support it provided to its tenants throughout the pandemic.

Working with Heart of the City, the new programme, which will take place over the course of a year, will offer up to 40 of Places for London's tenants the opportunity to undertake responsible business skills training. Tenants participating in the pilot will receive a range of training and support at no cost to themselves.

As one of the capital's largest landowners, Places for London provides a home to hundreds of businesses across the city, including florists, cafés, construction companies and garages. Located in arches, high streets and stations across London, around 95 per cent of the businesses on Places for London's estate are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs play a key role in London's economy, and its reputation as a place of innovation and excitement. However, it can often be a challenge for them to maximise their potential when implementing best responsible business practices, due to a lack of time, resources and expertise.

The new training includes online learning modules, webinars, insight sessions with experts, responsible business health checks and one-to-one sessions with advisors. There will also be opportunities for each business to meet other like-minded tenants from across Places for London's estate, so they can exchange ideas and learnings as well as potentially collaborate with each other.

As well as learning skills like how to protect mental health and wellbeing within SMEs and understand more about accessibility and inclusion, they will also learn about how they can make a wider impact on their communities too, such as through community investment, volunteering and by learning how to measure their carbon footprint and create a net-zero action plan.

By providing this range of support, Places for London hopes that its tenants will help the capital become a more inclusive and sustainable place, transitioning to net zero carbon, and thrive in their own right. By improving their performance and implementing what they have learnt through the training, it is hoped that the tenants will build on their existing success and continue to play an important role as part of Places for London's wider estate. In addition to this training, Places for London is continuing to examine the ways it can support London's SMEs by examining and developing a social value strategy.

Daniel Lovatt, Director of Asset Management at Places for London, said: 

'We are delighted to be piloting our business skills training programme, working with Heart of the City, which will support our tenants as they strive to become even more sustainable. We strongly believe that it is our role as a landlord to help our tenants succeed and continue to play an integral part of their local communities - when they thrive, we do too.'

Maggie Berry OBE, Director at Heart of the City, said: 

'Heart of the City is thrilled to be supporting Places for London's SME tenants through our Foundations for Responsible Business programme, which will help this cohort of businesses get started and advance on their sustainability journey. Navigating the environmental, social and governance (ESG) landscape can be challenging for smaller enterprises, and we're proud to contribute to Places for London's forward-thinking strategy by providing practical training support to their SME tenants. We're looking forward to seeing the positive transformations these SMEs will implement in their workplaces, improving their product and service delivery while contributing positively to society and being a force for good.'

Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO at Better Buildings Partnership, said: 

'Throughout our work at the Better Buildings Partnership, engaging with occupiers to improve the sustainability performance of commercial buildings has been a consistent theme. It is therefore very encouraging to see Places for London, a founding member of the BBP, building on our Green Lease Toolkit to introduce new clauses into the standard lease for its retail and arches estate. Combining this with a commitment to upskilling, building metering and data sharing provides strong foundations for collaborative relationships that enable London to unlock the shared value of more sustainable buildings.'

Joseph Salama, Owner of Jack's Garage, which is taking part in the programme, said: 

'We're excited to be part of Place for London's responsible business training programme, so that we can learn more about how we can build on the work we're already doing - such as through electric vehicle conversions - to make our business and the capital even more sustainable. As part of the programme, I am also looking forward to meeting other businesses from across the estate to hear more about their experiences and exchange ideas as well.'

The new training for tenants is just one of many initiatives Places for London is implementing to support and improve its existing property estate. Earlier this year, an updated standard lease was launched for businesses across its retail and arch estates, which built on its existing standard lease, so that there is now a stronger focus on environmental performance and the London Living Wage. Places for London worked with its tenants as well as members of the Better Buildings Partnership, which has produced a green lease toolkit for organisations to use, when developing these updates to its standard lease.

Places for London now has a programme to roll out meters across the estate, so that energy use can be more easily monitored. By better monitoring energy use, businesses can - working together with Places for London - support the wider goal to reach net-zero carbon in London, as well as ensure they can better manage energy costs.

Businesses will be asked to share this data with Places for London at regular intervals, so a better understanding of the environmental performance of its estate can be reached and assets can be future-proofed effectively. Places for London will also share the environmental performance data it holds with its tenants and will look to provide useful tips and advice to its tenants, so they can become more sustainable. The updated lease will also see tenants commit to not making any changes or additions to their property that will lead to a lower Energy Performance Certificate Rating.

In order to ensure that those working in the capital are receiving a fair wage, the updated lease now includes a clause relating to the London Living Wage. Places for London expects its tenants as they join the estate or renew their existing leases to make a commitment to paying their staff and suppliers the London Living Wage. This will help tenants to not only retain staff, but improve their reputations as responsible, inclusive and ethical businesses.

For more information about Places for London, please visit

Notes to editors:

  • Places for London is Transport for London's (TfL) wholly owned commercial property company, which is financed independently of the transport network. It is seeking to deliver homes and spaces where people feel proud to live, work and spend time in.
  • Places for London is helping to solve some of the capital's biggest challenges and meeting its wider needs, including building new affordable housing, delivering new workspaces, and becoming more sustainable, with operating profits from recurring revenues being returned to TfL as a dividend to reinvest into the transport network. Places for London's approach is focused on partnership and inclusion, taking the role of a long-term steward across its sites.
  • As part of its wider work to support both London and the wider industry, Places for London has established a construction skills programme, which is helping hundreds of people take their first steps in the construction industry or find new challenges to help move them into the next chapter of their career. Places for London is also working with schools all over the capital to help hundreds of children understand the vast range of roles across the built environment sector and help the next generation understand how they could have a part in shaping London's ever-changing skyline.
  • Around 95 per cent (1011 out of 1066) of tenants on the Places for London estate are SMEs. This is based on the Government's definitions for size categories of business and uses tenant self-reporting and Places for London's own categorisation to assign each customers as SME or a large business. Each tenant is taken as a unique customer (whether they have one or twenty different properties with Places for London). This figure does not include operational tenants like private bus companies who lease land from TfL/Places for London.

Heart of the City is a responsible business charity that supports small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to be a force for good through workshops, masterclasses, and expert mentoring. Their Foundations for Responsible Business programme brings together SMEs from across the UK to develop responsible business activities, and to make their business a force for good. Focusing on the areas of environment, people, community and overall approach, SMEs will learn from bigger businesses, experts and peers through live workshops, webinars, online resources, and insight sessions from responsible business experts. For more information, please visit: