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Rate relief on empty shops in Brighton and Hove to boost jobs
Thousands of jobs could be created in a new initiative to breathe life into empty shops and offices.
More than 500 vacant properties across Brighton and Hove could qualify for a new type of rate relief.
The new Empty Property Occupation Discount is aimed at helping growing businesses to move into new premises.
Brighton and Hove City Council has set aside £100,000 to bring the dormant shops and offices back to life.
As things stand, business rates have to be paid in full while a property remains empty. The new rate would provide a discount for six months once the ratepayer occupies the property.
To qualify for the discount, the premises must have been empty for at least six months.
Councillors will decide whether to go ahead with the scheme at a special meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee on September 12.
If agreed, the new discount would be available from October 1.
Regeneration expert Scott Marshall said: “I am pleased to see the council is taking this positive approach. Brighton and Hove is full of entrepreneurs looking to start up, develop and grow their businesses.
“Helping to reduce some of the initial financial burden for businesses in the early stages is a very positive step and it should lead to further business growth and the creation of more jobs.
“Businesses located close to empty units can often suffer so bringing them back into use will help improve the streetscape and add to the city’s retail and visitor offer.”
Philip Graves, at property agent Graves Jenkins, said the newinitiative was a step in the right direction but the council could go further.
He said: “The discount should apply on premises empty for three months or more, as this would assist with the future occupat i o n on vacant commercial property – why wait longer?
“The overall impact of vacant premises, either high street shops, offices or industrial premises, will be substantial and employment opportunities increase with every new letting.
“I speak with many local businesses who feel their business rates are too high and are having a detrimental effect on their operation. The council must do all it can to support local business through such difficult economic times.”
Tony Mernagh, executive director at the Brighton and Hove Economic partnership, said: “This is a great idea, especially for retail businesses.
“We don’t have huge numbers of empty shops compared to the UK benchmark, but complacency would be the way to see the figure grow so it’s good to see a scheme that will act as an incentive and be of real benefit.”
Council leader Jason Kitcat, chair of the Policy and Resources Committee, said: “Brighton and Hove’s discount will provide entrepreneurs with another incentive to do business in the city which in turn will help create jobs. We want to help businesses move to the next level.”
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