Andrew Gibson, Partner, Capital Markers at Cushman & Wakefield in Cardiff comments on the 2018 Budget:
“I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement on Business Rates Relief and the Future High Streets Fund, but more is needed to address the challenges facing town and city centre stakeholders. Funding is a key issue but measures to expedite change and address what, in many cases, amounts to market failure are at least as important.
Changes are necessary to provide public and private sector partners with greater agility and ability to allow town and city centres to “right size” and “right mix” the retail offer, introduce other uses, create open space, infrastructure and access improvements all of which are vital in building sustainable, fit for purpose, town centre communities.
We will learn in due course how the Future High Streets Fund will operate and how funding will be allocated and prioritised. It should allow Local Authorities to assemble land and develop directly where necessary and, I would suggest this could be as “trustee” for central government where income and future sales are returned to HM Treasury, whilst the Local Authority retains control and derives some financial (Business Rate capture) and wider economic betterment. The decline in retail property values in many town centre locations over recent years suggests the timing for purchasing is opportune
I would also like to see an extended period for empty rates relief for new commercial development, where the timing is linked to the implementation of planning consent to encourage accelerated development.”