The number of empty properties on the High Street may be about to fall as business rates relief comes into force in April 2014, according to Smiths Gore, the chartered surveyors and property consultants based at Kings Hill.

In last year’s Autumn statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced the introduction of a 50 per cent discount on business rates for new occupants of previously empty retail premises.

The tax-based initiative is intended to help reduce the number of boarded-up shops on English high streets.

The tax relief will be available to businesses moving in to properties between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016, and the discount will last for 18 months.

Alison Owen of Smiths Gore, said: “This relief is intended to kickstart interest in attracting businesses back to the country’s High Streets, which have come under considerable pressure from out of town shopping destinations and internet shopping.

No restrictions will be imposed on the type or size of the business which take the property and they will not be required to be a retail business in order to qualify for the relief. It is anticipated that the properties will have to have been empty for at least a year to qualify.

Alison Owen added: “The latest RICS Commercial Survey shows an upturn in interest in retail space, and we have seen increased interest in enquiries for High Street premises. However, with the discount only having a two year lifespan, those considering taking on retail premises, should act quickly.”

For more information on the tax relief please contact Alison Owen or Lucy Winzer at Smiths Gore on 01732 879050.

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