COUNCIL leaders have agreed to a 50 per cent business rate relief scheme for traders willing to take on a high street premises that have been empty for more than a year.

Hambleton District Council Cabinet committee today (Tuesday, July 15) voted in favour of the Central Government scheme, which is hoped will benefit around 30 long-term empty units in the district.

Councillor Nigel Knapton said: “It is hoped that this policy will further reinvigorate the market towns of Hambleton and encourage the re-occupation of empty village shops.

Loading article content

“The policy will also ensure the consistency of award for rate relief across the district and support the Council’s aim to encourage local economic growth.”

Deputy leader Cllr Peter Wilkinson said business forums and associations will be informed of the incentive in a bid to encourage uptake.

Cllr John Prest added: “It is good that this will affect the high streets rather than businesses on the periphery of town.

“However, I’m disappointed to see that charity shops can also benefit from this when, as councillors, a regular complaint we get from residents is the amount of charity shops around already.”

Council leader, Cllr Mark Robson, said: “This is great for businesses in Hambleton, and although it is still to be approved by full council I think in times of austerity it can only be welcomed.

“Hambleton has around 30 high street and village business units that have been standing empty for 12 months or more, so it can only be a good thing to bring that down – especially with premises that have been standing for many years.”

The 50 per cent discount would be available to business owners for the first 18 months after moving in, and will be available until March 31, 2016.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those that were previously used for retail, have been empty for at least 12 months and can be used for any retail, food sales or public service except as betting shops, pay day loan shops or pawn brokers.

Deputy chief executive of Hambleton District Council Justin Ives said the scheme was being put to cabinet at the earliest opportunity after it was introduced by the Government in April.

He said: “The scheme will have no cost to the council - it is being funded in the same way small business rates are, with the Government giving us a grant which pays for it.”

Members of Hambleton’s Full Council will be asked to approve the policy when they meet next week.