More offices and factories to be razed

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The Independent Online

A rise in the rate of demolition of unused office and factory buildings could be seen next year.

Increases of up to 20 per cent in business rates are being forecast, as hard-pressed local authorities seek to make up shortfalls in funding from central government.

This could push demolition rates sharply upwards, and also see the trend spread to central London, which has hitherto escaped the worst effects of the trend. Demolition of redundant buildings has left ugly eyesores in the middle of many British cities.

The Government abolished empty rates relief in April 2008, which meant that full rates have since been charged on empty commercial buildings. Business rates continue to be payable by landlords on all empty offices, even if letting proves difficult.

According to NB Real Estate, annual rates payable on a 115,000 sq ft office in the West End may rise from £2.3m to £2.8m. One Mayfair building was demolished and the site kept vacant for an extended time to avoid an empty rates bill of about £400,000, which will rise by around £80,000 next month.