Campaigners in Holmbush carried out a trade impact survey which generated over 100 rateable value appeals from local businesses. This resulted in a 20% rate reduction for those businesses that appealed.
The Adur District is on the South coast fronted by the sea and down land to the rear. It comprises three small towns: Southwick with a 1960s A.1 shopping precinct, Shoreham an L shape retail centre, with a mixture of Victorian and 1960s design, and Lancing, a modern town centre. Each retail centre has different assets and requirements. However our district council is pursuing a policy “whereby all new retail development is expected to be provided in the town centre but IF FULLY JUSTIFIED IN TERMS OF RETAIL NEED & WHERE THERE ARE NO SUITABLE SITES WITHIN THE TOWN CENTRE, EDGE OF CENTRE LOCATIONS MAY ALSO BE ACCEPTABLE” As there are no further sites available in our 3 towns this to us is an open invitation for the superstore giants to move in. Despite our protests, and publicity around these issues, our council has decided to pursue this. However, through the democratic process there are still several stages to go in which we can make our mark.
All business associations and chambers should check with their own councils as it is clear local councils are bowing to the pressure brought about not only by Tesco but by the European superstore giants who are coming to the U.K. in increasing numbers. They should ask what their plans are for town regeneration and do so without delay.
We lost our fight against Tesco in 1990 as the developers offered to provide Adur with a swimming pool, which turned out to be just a building with a hole in it so the council had to plumb and tile the pool and furnish/decorate the building! This year it could no longer afford to run this pool and has leased it to a private enterprise.
Not to be outdone, 6 months after Tesco opened I, as Secretary to the Adur Chamber of Commerce, carried out a trade impact survey in each of the 3 towns. I asked the usual questions BUT instead of asking for actual £SD/accountancy figures, I asked what PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCE IN TRADE and also I did not ask for the name or address of the retailer completing the form, only that they put in the area/town in which they conducted business. This enabled them to be absolutely honest in their report. Whereas prior attempts in the past for such surveys were unsuccessful as they always asked for confirmation of figures by annual business accounts. I had a 98% response. I had my findings published which were published by the broadsheets, national & local papers & radio. I had it on good authority even the government of the time accepted the results. Though they did nothing about the situation.
Subsequently I contacted Inland Revenue, District Valuer for 68 rating assessment appeal forms which I distributed to our members. I liaised with another chamber in Hove, tipped them off as to what I was doing, they did likewise. Some retailers hired professionals to assist in their appeals, these “professionals” contacted me for assistance! Legislation states if there is a major impact on business trade such as for example, the opening of a superstore, the district valuer will re-assess the rateable values of the appellant. As there were eventually over 100 appeals throughout the Adur District and West Hove, the district valuer gave a blanket reduction of 20% to all those who appealed – a modest success but was a morale booster.