13/03/2013

Call For Commercial Rates To Be Lower For Town Centre Developments

Labour Deputy, John Lyons, has stated that commercial rates should be lower for town centre developments and higher for large out of town developments – to help sustain smaller retailers that are currently under pressure.

Mr Lyons said: "In a recent report on town centres, car parking and smart travel, industry group RGDATA outlined how a temporary commercial rate increase called the Large Retail Levy, was introduced in Northern Ireland on large out of town businesses. The increased rate of 15 % allowed for rates relief for smaller businesses in town centres – who are at a competitive disadvantage in terms of car accessibility and parking charges.

"Take the example of Finglas Village, which has two large retail centres on its outskirts. There is a huge problem of vacant units in the Village centre which struggles to compete with large out of town retailers. This situation repeats itself across the country where large developments, usually with acres of free parking, compete with town centres for customers.

"Given the public investment in infrastructure, streetscapes and public transport, we have to look at ways of sustaining our town centres as core retail destinations.

"At present, commercial rates are usually applied equally regardless of location. A differential rates regime would rebalance this by providing a financial incentive for future town centre development and rates relief for existing businesses. The income generated could also be used to reduce parking charges in a town centre or to promote it as a place to shop or do business."

(CD)

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