An incentive scheme to encourage new and expanding businesses to move into vacant town centre properties has been given the green light.
On Monday, March 6, Cherwell District Council’s executive approved a report outlining proposals to award business rates incentives to bring empty properties in the centres of Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington back into use.
The report proposes a two-year pilot scheme to support town and village centres and their existing businesses by offering a 50 per cent discount on business rates to new businesses occupying vacant premises within designated areas.
Ken Atack, councillor for financial management, said: “Cherwell is fully committed to sustaining the economic growth of the district.
“The aim of the scheme is to help reduce empty properties, to increase the diversity of the town centres and offer an incentive for new or expanding businesses looking to locate in Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington.”
Business rates, also known as national non-domestic rates (NNDR), are a form of tax payable by owners and occupiers of commercial properties.
Until April 2013, business rates were collected by Cherwell and passed to central government who redistributed them nationally.
With the localisation of business rates from April 2013, councils were given more flexibility including the ability to reduce the business rates of any local ratepayer under a local discount or incentive scheme.
The scheme will come into effect from April 1 and to be eligible for the incentive the property must have been vacant for at least six months.
The scheme will be open to all businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 to £50,000, except those which are specifically excluded in the eligibility criteria such as charity shops, pawnbrokers, adult shops and betting shops.
There are 17 properties in Banbury town centre which are vacant.
The designated area will be bordered by the streets north of Castle Quay shopping centre, Cherwell Street, Dashwood Road and roads just to the east of People’s Park. The scheme has been welcomed by Banbury’s Chamber of Commerce.
For further information, contact Geni Hotchkiss, business support unit manager, on 01327 322170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.