I feel, having spent my working life in commercial and retail property, I should point out to your readers, Ann Chadwick’s misconception as to the way commercial lettings work – (Letter in Issue 198 – Feb 14).
She bemoans the loss of the Coln Gallery and I agree with her, but clearly there was not enough trade to sustain it in any form.
Nevertheless, rentals operate in a free market and are self-regulating – they don’t need artificial caps. Not so the pernicious business rates levied by local councils, which due to the idiocy of the law, have to be paid in full whether or not the property is let.
This entirely disincentivises councils or central government from doing anything about this issue, due to the high level of income it generates, whether or not a shop is actually let.
Not so for landlords; rents are actually tumbling, so they will normally make every effort to seek new and keep existing tenants; granting big incentives such as long rent-free periods and lower rents, just as long as the tenant pays the business rates.
High streets are struggling badly as physical retailing fades in the face of online trading and heavy council levied parking charges.
NB. It will only get worse – much worse! This is a fact of life, but councils are not facing up to it and won’t do, just as long as they can get away with clawing in those business rates come what may.
The moral of this story is that the landlord is not the ‘baddy‘ here.
Note the proliferation of charity shops in the high street. Why? Because they get an 80 per cent rebate on business rates. (Shouldn’t it actually be the same for every retail trader)?!
St Martins Square