Boost for Breckland businesses as rate relief scheme expanded
- Credit: Paul Adcock
New or relocating businesses in Breckland's five market towns are being given the opportunity to claim up to 80 percent rate relief in their first year.
Breckland councillors have agreed proposals to reduce business rates for eligible retail companies in Attleborough, Dereham, Swaffham, Thetford and Watton in a bid to combat the number of empty town centre shops.
The cabinet voted to adopt a discretionary retail rate relief scheme following a successful pilot scheme in Dereham in 2016.
The initative will support retail businesses – including shops, restaurants, and others – who move into a vacant town centre unit.
Councillor Paul Claussen, executive member for place, said: 'Reducing empty properties and enhancing what is on offer is a priority for the council, and by giving retail businesses taking new or additional space a helping hand we are hoping to do just that.
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'This is another innovative way that we can encourage the regeneration of local market towns and it will align with a package of support that we hope to develop as part of our upcoming Market Towns Initiative.'
Breckland Council will now agree how to implement the scheme with each of the town councils.
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It has already identified empty premises in the towns that are ideal for support and further consultation with the town councils and partners would establish defined zoning areas, based upon a number of key variables for supporting thriving high streets.
The council will then make available details on how interested new or existing businesses can access the business rates relief.
A report to the committee said during the pilot in Dereham Adcocks Electrical was encouraged to expand into a new location and take on the long standing Bennetts store on Norwich Street.
It said: 'The reduction in business rates in the first year of trading was a huge factor in their decision.'
But it added: 'None of Breckland's market towns is in crisis. Nevertheless retail void rates are higher than is desirable, and there is a growth in the number of charity shops on high streets. Although the level of interest has been muted, officers consider there is scope to expand the offer.'