Enterprise in the Welsh countryside will be stifled and unlisted
buildings put at risk due to an additional tax, rural economy
expert CLA Wales has warned Welsh Assembly Government Heritage
Minister, Rhodri Glyn Thomas.
CLA Wales Chairman, Ross Murray, says the Rating (Empty
Properties) Act 2007 removed exemptions from empty property
rates from April 1 this year, with the effect that landowners
and farmers who have sought a change of use in the hope
of supplementing income from agriculture will now lose
money. And he has written to Rhodri Glyn Thomas outlining
the impact of ‘a wholly unwelcome additional tax’."People
now need to be much more certain that they are going to
be able to consistently let these buildings where the use
has been changed from agricultural to commercial",
added CLA Wales Chairman Ross Murray.
"In my view, the Government has scored a major own
goal through the rates levy on empty property. This will
merely stifle diversification in rural Wales, where the
investment and employment associated with new business
is so critical to the rural economy.
"It’s also a failure of the devolution process
because the Welsh Assembly Government was incapable of
setting its own policy on this issue. If it wasn’t
so serious I’d say that this was a very poor April
In his letter to Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Ross Murray wrote:"I
must put it to you that, in both a rural and urban context,
Wales' unlisted built heritage is unlikely to now receive
the investment you would desire as Heritage Minister.
"The implications for Wales are as follows:
will be deterred from speculative development without
significant pre-lets (unlikely in areas of low demand
viz Rural Wales).
- Investment, if any, will be concentrated in
areas of demand (again, I suggest not Rural Wales). If
development is reduced over a long period of time the
market could become two-tiered, with disproportionate
rental increases as demand outstrips supply, and conversely
falling rents in low-value areas.
- Prospering businesses may be forced to delay
expansion plans with fewer properties to choose from.
- The pressure to abandon or demolish buildings
will inevitably increase.
- The additional tax burden on business can only
damage the flexibility and competitiveness of the Welsh
Mr Murray stressed
his disappointment that WAG had passed on the opportunity
to modify the Act as it applies to Wales under its autonomous
powers. The chance to reduce the 100% liability to a lower
percentage and to increase the rate free period had been
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