Concern over lack of support for commercial property in Chichester

CLUTTONS estate agents has expressed concern at last week’s national budget, believing more support encouraging commercial property growth is required.

Sean Kaufmann, partner in the firm which has a branch within Chichester, believed chancellor George Osborne was not offering sufficient incentives for developers to feel confident about building new business premises.

The senior estate agent said the problem was especially bad in the county town, with present taxation rules meaning rates were prohibitively high on developing commercial properties – leading to a shortage of supply in the Observer area.

Mr Kaufmann said: “I believe the government should have allowed rateable value relief on new commercial properties for the first 36 months, as no-one is building speculatively in the hope that their premises will be occupied immediately.

“As a result of this, developers are not making investments as they know they will be liable to rate as soon as sites are completed.

“The ratable value is set every five years and it’s not due to change now until 2015, but I think it’s something that has been seriously missed in dealing with for this latest budget.

“There is a distinct lack of growth in providing units for new businesses. There haven’t been any seen in Chichester for some time, and unless there is support for them from government, then there won’t be any.”

Mr Kaufmann said he had raised the issue with city MP Andrew Tyrie on a regular basis and vowed he would continue to do so given the apparent lack of movement on the issue.

Despite concerns over a lack of commercial development within the area, he believed the retail sector had fared much stronger. The Cluttons partner said the fact that Chichester had avoided going down the route of modern shopping malls had given it a unique selling point as a shopping destination.