Developers given grace period from empty property rates

Kasmira Jefford
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A MOVE to grant retailers and developers a grace period free from paying empty rates on new buildings has been dismissed by industry insiders as “not going far enough”.

The chancellor said yesterday that all newly built commercial property completed from October 2013 to September 2016 will be free from empty property rates for the first 18 months, up to the state aid limit. The £150m move aims to help developers to kick-start schemes.

Marion Kane, a real estate director at accountancy firm Ernst & Young said: “This is clearly good news but there is no concession for landlords of existing properties who are struggling to find tenants who need relief now.”

Properties such as Minerva’s Walbrook building in the City have struggled to find tenants as economic uncertainty and job cuts in the banking sector mean companies are reluctant to move.

“Swathes of our high streets contain up to 50 per cent boarded up shops,” Deloitte partner Robert Murdoch said. “Properties are not deliberately kept empty, in the vast majority of cases, they are empty only because of the current state of the economy.”

Mark Henderson, head of rating at DTZ added the relief, capped at three year aid limit of €200,000 was “unlikely to make any material difference to private investment.”