The effect of material changes on rateable values

With rating appeals lodged after 1 April 2015 no longer able to be backdated to 2010, businesses across Oxfordshire are being encouraged to check that they are paying the correct amount in Business Rates.

Of course, appeals may also be made for a variety of physical changes to the property or the locality. Known as ‘Material Changes’ of circumstances’, these may justify a reduction from the date from which they occur.

According to the Government*, material changes can include:

·         a change to the property itself or how the property is used

·         new developments in the area

·         new roads or changes to access routes

For example, a recent ‘material change’ in Oxford city centre which may reduce rateable values is the closure of the Westgate Car Park on 5th January 2015 for works in preparation of the redevelopment of the Westgate site. The former car park is part of the £400m redevelopment which is to include 70 new shops, a basement car park with 1,000 spaces, 122 new homes, a cinema and rooftop terrace. Work on the retail development could start next year but businesses close to the site could endure up to 4 years of disruption before the building project is completed.

Robert Sears of RDS Commercial commented, “If the Valuation Office Agency becomes aware of a material change, they look at how it affects the rental value and whether this means the rateable value needs to be adjusted. We would encourage any Oxford business near the Westgate development to consider appealing against their current rateable value.”

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