Rates hike will squeeze Fitzrovia’s small businesses and creative industries

Businesses in Fitzrovia will be hit with a huge increase in bills next year after the government confirmed an increase of business rates in its autumn Statement.

Dalek seen through window.

A dalek waits to welcome any bailiffs to offices on Charlotte Street.

Although land values are lower than most of London’s other West End districts, the cost of premises in Fitzrovia has increased at a greater rate and will squeeze the area’s community of small businesses and creative industries.

The higher costs reflect the rapid increase in property value which has hit residential as well as commercial rents. Much of it is caused by the new Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road and the marketing of Fitzrovia to overseas investors wanting to move their wealth into property.

High profile residential and commercial developments on the sites of the former Middlesex Hospital at Fitzroy Place and former Royal Mail delivery office at Rathbone Square have attracted international attention.

Fitzrovia has also been plundered by numerous other redevelopments which have damaged much of the area’s historical fabric despite its conservation areas. Residents have been priced out while cheap and characterful offices have been replaced by pimped-up apartments and brash, glass-fronted boxes or fake Georgian facades.

Businesses will see, on average, a 40 percent increase in the rateable value of their premises, far higher than the London average of 23.7 percent, and higher than the average increase in Westminster (25.3 percent) and Camden (29.5 precent).

But bills will be capped to allow a transition period to allow businesses to plan for their future rate demands. The change will come into effect in April 2017.

Newley completed buildings and under construction.

Brash new world. High profile residential and commercial developments have attracted a lot of attention.

In 2012 businesses in the Camden part of Fitzrovia which currently have a rateable value of over £100,000 voted to pay a levy to The Fitzrovia Partnership Business Improvement District (BID). Currently around 230 businesses are liable for this levy which is 1 percent of rateable value and collected by Camden Council on behalf of the BID.

But due to the rise in rateable values in the BID area more businesses could become included for this extra payment.

However, The Fitzrovia Partnership has told Fitzrovia News that it wants to mitigate the effects of the rates increase and will raise the threshold figure that triggers a demand for payment so that no more businesses become liable for the levy.

The BID says it will reduce the levy to offset the increase in bills.

“We are doing analysis on the levy percentage with a view to reducing the levy and increasing our rateable value threshold,” says BID manager Lee Lyons.

“We are well aware of the impact on businesses with the increasing business rates and are working with our members to support them. We have recently launched an offer to our membership with our partners BNP Paribas to look at opportunities to challenge the new proposed ratings,” he says.

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