Call for landlords of empty shops in Honiton to consider reducing rental charges

PUBLISHED: 16:15 15 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:14 21 February 2018

Tony McCollum says if commercial units in Honiton were offered a slightly lower rental rate, the town could be more successful in attracting new businesses.

Tony McCollum says if commercial units in Honiton were offered a slightly lower rental rate, the town could be more successful in attracting new businesses.

Archant

A call has been made to landlords of unoccupied shops in Honiton to consider reducing rental charges to bring new businesses to the town.

Chairman of the Honiton Chamber of Commerce Tony McCollum pictured on Honiton High Street. Ref mhh 31-16SH 4812. Picture: Simon Horn. Chairman of the Honiton Chamber of Commerce Tony McCollum pictured on Honiton High Street. Ref mhh 31-16SH 4812. Picture: Simon Horn.

Tony McCollum, chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce, revealed some landlords in the town had preferred to keep their units empty instead of offering it to potential suitors for a slightly reduced rent.

He said: “East Devon District Council has generously increased the minimum banded rateable value that attracts commercial rates to £12,000 per annum.

“For landlords to keep premises unoccupied for two years while waiting for a tenant to pay £13,000 rather than reduce the rent makes no or little business sense.

“Ten years at £13,000 would realise £130,000, while 10 years at £12,000 would realise £120,000 - a difference of £10,000.

“But, the two years missed rent would realise £24,000, thus producing an overall profit of £14,000.”

Mr McCollum said members of the chamber have been brainstorming to tackle the issue head-on.

He added: “One suggestion a member came up with is the district council should consider reviewing any reduction in rates for unoccupied premises after three months and not allow exemption.”

“This way, landlords would be encouraged to fill their premises.

“Another suggestion is to levy a surcharge on all premises unoccupied for more than six months with extra funds raised being put back into the town.

“This would help attract visitors back to the town and improve the overall look.”

Mr McCollum is also calling on landlords to tidy up their unoccupied shops’ fronts.

He said: “Landlords whose premises remain unoccupied for several months could help improve the look of New Street and High Street by decorating the windows or creating false displays.

“This will help to improve the overall look of the town and make the premises more attractive for visitors and to potential occupiers of those or nearby businesses while at the same time disguising the unsightly work going on inside.”

Mr McCollum’s appeal has been echoed by Honiton mayor John Zarczynski, who said: “I fully support Mr McCollum’s view on this.

“It’s important that any business premises that are empty are kept up to a good standard.

“If they are not, it will have a detrimental effect on the look of the town and its ability to attract shoppers to the high street.”

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