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Change to Vacant Rates Relief may prioritise action on unoccupied sites

2nd June 2016

Changes introduced by the Scottish Government on 1 April 2016 significantly reduced the amount of rates relief on vacant industrial property.  Having previously enjoyed 100% exemption, empty properties will now only avail of this for an initial period of 3 months, dropping to 10% thereafter.  This is likely to have notable implications for industrial stock nationwide, with roof removals and demolitions expected as a method of negating these overheads, resulting in depleted supply over the long term. 

This development is particularly relevant within a Dundee context due to its considerable stock of brownfield land.  Latest employment land survey data issued by Dundee City Council in February 2016 details that proportionately, previously developed brownfield land now accounts for almost 19% of available employment land across the city, a 5% increase on 2011 figures. 

Scottish Planning Policy promotes the reuse of brownfield land ahead of development on greenfield sites, with alternative uses encouraged where existing properties fail to meet current market needs and expectations.  This may result in Dundee City Council dealing with a larger number of change of use applications for unoccupied sites. 

Ryden’s 78th Scottish Property Review, published in early May, notes that Dundee accounts for the highest number of new companies registered in Scotland during 2015.  This has fed through to the market of late, with a number of businesses taking previously unoccupied premises for industrial use at inner city locations.  An increased number of these sites may well enter the market place in the short term as landowners seek to offset costs incurred through the changes to rates relief.

Such an approach can contribute to bringing land back into productive use and enabling the successful regeneration of a range of out dated and depleted industrial stock which in many cases appear unsightly, adding little to the visual appeal of the city.  The emergence of new companies within the Dundee can act as a catalyst for the effective reuse of brownfield sites that have become a financial burden upon landowners and whilst also enhancing the urban environment. 

Ian Livingstone

Since joining Ryden early in 2014, Ian has been involved in a broad scope of spatial planning within Aberdeenshire and beyond.  He also now works from our Dundee office on a part-time basis.

His role includes preparation and submission of Representations to various Local Development Plans; planning, submitting and managing planning applications and appeals; and preparing and progressing Development Frameworks and Masterplans.

Ian also identifies strategic development potential, produces site appraisals and Development Briefs, as well as advising on and implementing strategies in order to achieve desired outcomes for clients.

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