Leading commercial property consultancy Knight Frank has warned the Chancellor’s decision to retain a “draconian tax” on empty properties could discourage redevelopment in Yorkshire.

Announcing this year’s budget, Alistair Darling chose not to enact the 50 per cent relief for vacant properties that was possible under the Empty Property Act. Industry experts at Knight Frank believe this could lead to businesses unnecessarily demolishing vacant buildings and a lack of commercial property on the market.

Tim Bottrill, partner with international property consultancy Knight Frank in Sheffield, said: “The property industry welcomes the confirmation that the empty property rate exemption threshold will be raised from £15,000 to £18,000 for the next financial year.

“However, it is disappointing that the Chancellor decided not to enact the 50 per cent relief for all vacant properties which was possible under the current Empty Property Act. In the current recession businesses are ultimately the key drivers for the economy to recover and they should not be subject to this draconian tax.

“Any chances of a recovering in the commercial property market are being jeopardised by the controversial tax on unoccupied property. Some businesses will continue to demolish existing unoccupied premises to escape the widely condemned financial burden of this tax.

“There is also the fear that when the economy does return to full steam there’ll be a lack of commercial properties on the market, not only in Yorkshire but nationwide.”

Mr Bottrill said that the tax is proving to be obstructive, with businesses being forced to take extreme measures to protect themselves during the tough economic conditions.

He added: “Properties are not left vacant deliberately and I do not believe a charge on empty property is an effective way of encouraging redevelopment of vacant sites across Yorkshire.”

Source: HR Media

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