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Drive to fill empty units in town centre sees rates relief scheme agreed

PUBLISHED: 13:04 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:04 20 March 2019

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is bringing in a rates relief scheme for units which hae been empty for more than three years. Pictured, the town's former M&S which closed in 2015 Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is bringing in a rates relief scheme for units which hae been empty for more than three years. Pictured, the town's former M&S which closed in 2015 Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

A drive to bring long-term empty units in Great Yarmouth town centre back into use has resulted in a business rates reduction scheme.

Graham Plant, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, has welcomed the plans.  Picture: ANTONY KELLYGraham Plant, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, has welcomed the plans. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

In a move hoped to breathe new life into the town centre, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has agreed to make it easier for businesses to successfully bid for rates reductions.

It is making discounts available to businesses who agree to occupy sites - particularly retail units - that fit a range of criteria, including those that have been empty for more than three years.

Business owners will be required to specify a clear and detailed business plan of how they intend to develop the property and ensure the unit will be in permanent use from within two years.

New businesses receiving the discount will also be duty-bound to remain in the property for at least a year.

Stuart Brabben, revenues manager at the borough council, said: “We have designed the application process to make sure we get the right people interested in the scheme and owners will have to provide their clear business plan for this reason.

“New businesses will have to be in place for more than a year, otherwise we will be able to reclaim the relief from them.”

Graham Plant, Conservative leader of the council, called on central government to offer more support to those businesses that already are open in the town.

He said: “My issue is we need business rates to run some of our services, so I feel more work needs to be done to help those that have been open long term and would like to know if central government can do for these.”

Trevor Wainwright, Labour group leader on the council, said: “I think this is a really good scheme and a real opportunity to bring people back into the town centre.”

After members of the borough council’s policy and resources committee agreed to the proposal, the scheme will come into effect from Monday, April 1.

Much of the financial impact of the relief will be mitigated for by £100,000 set aside in the council’s budget for the coming financial year.

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