Since April 2008, when the Rating (Empty Properties) Act came into effect in England and Wales, empty commercial property has been liable for the full business rate following an initial rate-free period of three months, or six months for industrial premises. Previously, empty commercial property, such as retail space and offices, received 100 per cent relief from paying business rates for the first three months and were only liable to a 50 per cent rate thereafter. Industrial units, such as factories and warehouses, previously received 100 per cent rate exemption in perpetuity. As of April 2009, non-domestic properties with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will receive a one year rate relief ‘holiday’. Analysing these reforms I investigate a scenario that has been dubbed ‘Bombsite Britain’ by practitioners as many property owners opt to demolish their buildings in order to avoid the ‘stealth tax’. With other property owners resorting to ‘constructive vandalism’, including removing building roofs, I investigate the visual and design impact this is having on Britain’s urban landscape. I make the case that these blots on the urban landscape are having a detrimental impact on Britain’s urban renaissance and go against Government sustainability and design quality aspirations
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