Highland Council bid to get empty business units back into use will hit non-domestic rates payers in the pockets
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A BID to get empty business properties back into economic use has been agreed by Highland Council.
A new non-domestic rates empty property relief scheme will be introduced from April next year.
It will reduce the relief available for unoccupied/empty non-domestic rates properties.
It means that non-domestic rates payers will have a disincentive to simply sit on empty premises as they will eventually be liable to pay the full amount.
It will be looked at with interest in several Ross-shire's high streets and main commercial areas where empty business premises are considered a blight on townscapes and a negative impact on local economies.
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Members of the council’s corporate resources committee agreed a scheme devised in order to encourage ratepayers to bring non-domestic properties, which are otherwise empty or unoccupied, back into economic use, either through self-occupation or by letting the property for use on the open market.
A number of specific classes of non-domestic properties will not be affected by the scheme, including those where occupation is prohibited by law.
The empty property relief scheme will be phased in over three years and will reduce the relief available for unoccupied/empty non-domestic rates properties.
The phasing approach will enable owners of non-domestic properties to bring these properties back into use in a planned way and enables those acquiring empty properties from April 2024 to incorporate the costs of their non-domestic rates liabilities into their business plans and decisions.
Councillor Calum Munro, vice-chair of the corporate resources committee, said: “Yesterday's decision is an important step in managing the ever-increasing number of empty commercial properties throughout the region – this scheme is for the benefit of local economies and also to assist in generating employment opportunities for areas in Highland."
He added: “The scheme has been designed in such a way that it will be introduced on a phased basis over a three-year period from April 2024. We hope that this approach will enable unoccupied commercial property owners the opportunity to put in place plans to bring properties back into economic use in the medium-term.”
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