• Nov 20 / 2015
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Business rates devolution won’t help say British business groups

Numerous British business groups have been delivering warnings to the Government regarding the recently proposed business rates changes.

As we discussed in a recent blog, George Osborne has unveiled a radical new business rates plan that allows councils to have full control over rates in their area.

Some have interpreted these latest developments as a sign that the Government may turn to devolution plans as a way to avoid the long-awaited business rates review. Needless to say, the outlook is very disappointing for those who were hoping for a radical evaluation of the system.

Business rates in 2015 so far

During March, Oaksure reported on how the Government would be assessing the way business rates are calculated and charged. It came as a huge relief to the British Property Federation who had been arguing that business rates were severely outdated. They said that the internet age had left no aspect of the economy unchanged, but at the same time, businesses’ property needs had changed and business rates hadn’t adapted at all.

The first major change to the business rates system in 2015 following the Government’s decision to review business rates was announced at the start of October. This is when George Osborne made the surprising announcement that local councils would be handed full control of business rates.

How are British business groups reacting?

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), Confederation of British Industry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Association of Convenience Retailers believe that devolution is not the answer to the issue of business rates.

The BRC have said that there is now a real concern among those industries disproportionately punished by the tax that devolution is seen by government as the “great panacea” to its many inequities.

According to Martin McTague from the FSB, there are concerns that the devolution plans are a convenient way for the Government to avoid difficult decisions as they shift it down to local government.

Business rates findings

A spokesperson for the Treasury has said that the Government will have its business rates findings ready for the end of the year.

The future looks far from promising with such little time remaining and the massive changes already announced.

However, there are savings to be made now that a Government review couldn’t possibly compete with. Vacant property security companies like Oaksure Property Protection are able to help businesses achieve business rates relief of 90% on vacant property with full valuation office endorsement.

  • Nov 10 / 2015
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Permitted Development Rights Are Now Permanent

Temporary permitted development rights were introduced for the first time in 2013. They have since enabled scores of offices around the country to be converted into residential buildings without the need for planning permission.

This has meant that developers have been free to convert underused or vacant commercial spaces into new homes without the usual complications. This was certainly popular with the development industry, as between April 2014 and June 2015 it was responsible for approximately 4,000 conversions.

Permitted development rights were scheduled to expire on 30 May 2016. However, as of 13 October 2015, permitted development rights have been made permanent.

Permanent permitted development rights now include demolition

The plans were announced by Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis. He hopes the decision will provide much-needed new homes, make better use of existing buildings and protect the green belt.

Lewis also said that office-to-residential permitted development rights will include the demolition of existing office buildings to construct new residential buildings.

Now that permitted development rights have been made permanent and more accessible, there will be less uncertainty for many developers. However some developments may require prior approval and although the statutory requirements relating to prior approval are less intensive than with planning applications, it could cause delays that incur extra costs.

How vacant property security can help office-to-residential conversions

Whether a developer is waiting for a building to be demolished, refurbishment to be completed or to find a new tenant, vacant property security companies can help to keep their costs down.

Unoccupied buildings can invite a host of potential issues that cannot be effectively solved by the presence of static security guards or CCTV. Issues like metal theft, vandalism, fly tipping and even squatting can make any building conversion more time consuming and costly than it should be.

Property guardian services like those of Oaksure Property Protection – a company that has worked on office-to-residential conversions in the past and continues to provide security to large construction schemes across the capital – can ensure a higher level of security than the aforementioned methods. For example, due to the fact that property guardians occupy their assigned property, the occupied property gains legal protection against squatters.

Furthermore, property guardians perform regular patrols and reports. This means that all occupied property utilities are kept in good working order and that each property remains as marketable as possible.