“Wellington vitally needs infrastructure which supports contemporary practice like the UDB.” Jo Randerson, Barbarian Productions

Got an Innovative Idea?

We are looking for innovative ideas that build community and diversity in the city and develop people through the unique, original use of vacant retail space. 

UDB Criteria 

Projects may be of any duration and need not be temporary. We are looking to the long-term in assisting change in the city.

Applicants must:
Bring life to Wellington. Projects should be fresh, dynamic and open to the public. They can be anywhere within Wellington City Council boundaries. We are interested in projects that are accessible and visible, increasing a sense of community in the city and interacting with the public in new ways. 

Provide the unique and innovative. We are not interested in turning the city into another copy of itself, or one type of space or gallery. Part of the selection process is the encouragement of mixed use, diversity and variety. Contribute to the thinking, use and design of urban spaces by thinking about how your project might operate differently to what is already in existence. 

Demonstrate professionalism and a very clear idea. Projects should have future potential for growth, and individuals/organisations should demonstrate that they are ready to look after a space professionally and responsibly. We believe looking after space and public interaction  lead to the development of professional skills and business practice, but we need to have confidence you are ready to take on a space. 

Pay attention to their project’s context. Projects should demonstrate an awareness of Wellington City’s current usages, issues and history. Think about where it might best be located and the interaction that has with its neighbourhood and existing uses. We welcome indications of where in the city, and even specific sites, that you think your work is suitable for. We are looking to assist in the revitalisation of areas, so the context for your project is important.  

Representation: We are committed to increasing the visibility of mana whenua in the city and the connection between the city and the history of the land it is placed on. We're also committed to ensuring the city better reflects the diversity of people in Wellington. Consider how your project represents these elements.

Existing Relocating Projects Projects that involve relocating from an existing rented commercial space in Wellington city are not eligible. We do not want to undermine existing businesses and tenancies. Rather, we prioritise new projects and initiatives. 

Emerging Business We welcome emerging business proposals that find innovative ways to engage with the public. These must involve the production and sale of original work or services made or created here. Applicants may like to consider ways they can engage the public in the creative process, discussion or in relationship with what they are creating.

Community and Social Agency We are also interested in community group, arts and social agency projects that open out activity to the view and participation (through workshop, performance and activity models) of the public. Activity shouldn’t be that that could just as well occur behind closed doors in a community hall or other space. You should consider how you might open out your activity to wider and different participation that makes it more engaging and visible to the city.

Student work that is under assessment is not eligible for the UDB unless previously arranged with the academic institution.

How it works

Urban Dream Brokerage helps find a space for approved projects and negotiates its use, organises a license (see below) and covers public liability insurance. 

The Application Process

  1. Criteria: Individuals or organisations first must be satisfied they meet the criteria for application.
  2. Submission: Applicants fill out a submission form available to enter online here. Applicants can contact broker Helen Kirlew Smith at urbandreambrokerage@gmail.com or phone 027 378 7432. 
  3. Assessment: The applications are assessed by the UBD advisory panel. The proposal must meet with their majority approval as to matching the criteria, and they may provide advice on its best implementation. UBD then meet with applicants to vet their application and discuss potential spaces.
  4. Location: UDB proceeds to locate property options and commence negotiations. Applicants are also encouraged to identify spaces they think are suitable (in some instances they will actually negotiate the use of space themselves). If we think a project is suitable for a space that is available we meet with the applicant and assess the project in more detail.
  5. Licensing: Once located UDB issues the licenses and arranges for public liability insurance cover (a key part of the brokerage's services to applicants) and assists applicants to obtain power and other utilities (we can help with set-up but the cost of power and utilities is at the licensee's cost).
  6. Monitoring: The agency then monitors the progress, and reports back to both property owners and partners at the end of the license. We will also feature applicants' projects on our website, through our newsletter to our database and through social media. Projects that aren't temporary should plan on operating on a rolling 30 day period of use.


Licenses for properties are negotiated on a rent-free basis, either for a prescribed period of a few weeks or months, or on a rolling license that gives either a party the ability to give the other 30 days notice. Licensees pay a small weekly fee of $10 to UDB to help with the coverage of insurance and breakages. The temporary license (developed in partnership with major property owners)  provides that the licensee:                         

  • covers the cost of power and utilities,
  • obtains through UBD public liability insurance,
  • And takes the property on a "as is where is basis".

Property managers or owners interested in having their property listed with UBD should contact us and we will be in touch to discuss further the options for your building.


The UDB provides to both occupiers and property owners:
-brokerage of a temporary license
-photography and documentation of the project
-Public Liability Insurance for the building site up to $5 000 000
-Cover for minor damage up to $400

We ask applicants to pay what they can afford in terms of a contributory fee: $20 per week/ $50 per week/ or  if they represent a small business or not for profit $100 per week.

Licensees will also be liable for power and other utilities - we are able to offer assistance in getting the best deals we can on these for you.

All agreements have reviews built into them. If a licensee starts a business that ends up turning over good money we’d gradually expect them to start paying closer to a commercial rent to the property owners when they can afford to. This is something we'd assist in the negotiation of. With ongoing projects, our aim is to nurture them so they eventually don’t need support.