Decision details

Business Rates Relief - Town Centres (Agenda Item 9)

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes

Purpose:

To introduce a pilot discretionary retail rate relief scheme in Dereham, that could attract investment and limit areas of retail decline.  It is anticipated that this scheme will positively assist in a reduction in the number of empty retail units in targeted areas of Dereham and create a model that is capable of application elsewhere in the District.

 

Decision:

That:

 

1)     Option 1 - to introduce a pilot discretionary business rate relief scheme for certain new retail businesses in Dereham be approved. If approved, the scheme will commence in April 2016 for a 12 month period. It will offer up to 80% business rates relief for the pilot period and will be targeted at new businesses that meet all eligible criteria. The scheme as a whole will be reviewed on an annual basis. 

2)     Members instruct officers to commence consultation on the precise boundaries of the proposed eligible zones of the town (map to be circulated at Cabinet), and with a view to developing Dereham specific-guidance notes and an application form.

3)     Members ask to receive two future reports. The first will recommend specific measures that might support Breckland’s five market towns, together with financial and other implications of these proposals. The second will report back on the success of the Dereham discretionary business rate relief scheme, and on any policy issues it might generate.

 

Reasons for the decision:

1.     We have a clear corporate commitment to helping our market towns to thrive in order that they in turn provide the required support to surrounding villages and hinterlands. We recognise that Breckland’s market towns need to be vibrant and busy, offering an interesting and enjoyable experience to visitors.  Out of town and online shopping have drawn many people away from town centres. Thus, businesses find it hard to sustain a presence on the high street. High rents, competition and business rates add to the problem. The result is void premises, a preponderance of charity shops in some town centres and low quality retail offers in others.

 

2.     Breckland has an important role in facilitating the renaissance of its town centres. There are a number of ways in which it can be a catalyst of change and these will be described in a future report. However, it is important to be seen to act quickly in support of Dereham’s town centre. To this end, Members are asked to agree to the introduction of a discretionary retail rate relief scheme as pilot in Dereham from April 2016.

 

Alternative options considered:

Option 1          Introduce a pilot discretionary business rate relief scheme for certain new retail businesses in Dereham. The scheme would commence in April 2016 for a 12 month period. It would offer up to 80% business rates relief for the pilot period and would be targeted at new businesses that meet all eligible criteria. The scheme as a whole would be reviewed on an annual basis.  Financial details of the scheme are shown within the attached spreadsheet (Appendix 2).

 

Option 2          Do nothing; continue to offer the current schemes of retail relief, small business relief and the Government empty premises relief.  Details of the scheme are shown on the attached spreadsheet (Appendix 2).

 

Report author: Gerry Dawson

Publication date: 23/09/2015

Date of decision: 22/09/2015

Decided at meeting: 22/09/2015 - Cabinet

Effective from: 01/10/2015

Accompanying Documents: