MP Karl McCartney has said the City of Lincoln Council and the Lincolnshire Co-op have a “moral duty” to reduce rent and business rates for traders affected by Cornhill Quarter redevelopment and Transport Hub works in the city centre.
During Parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Karl urged Lincolnshire Co-operative to reduce the rent charged to traders in the shopping area.
He has also called upon the Valuation Office and the city council to reduce the business rates for the traders.
Construction work has been ongoing for a number of months on the £30 million Lincoln Transport Hub and site of the former bus station being Sincil Street.
In conjunction, work is also progressing on a £70 million project to modernise the Cornhill Quarter by landowners Lincolnshire Co-op, in tandem with the city council.
Traders in the area have been met with disruptive works throughout.
Karl said: “Whilst I welcome of course the much-needed redevelopment in this part of Lincoln, the level of disruption is causing a loss of trade to a range of first class independent shops.
“Even though there are a number of initiatives to support them through this period, more is needed in terms of financial support and this is the probably the most important.
“Lincolnshire Co-operative have a moral duty as the landlord to reduce the rent they charge for this period and that the Lincoln City Council and Valuation Office must reduce the traders’ business rates for this difficult period too.”
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire Co-op said: “We are pleased Karl McCartney MP has spent time in the Sincil Street and Cornhill Quarter area and welcomes the much-needed regeneration currently underway. This includes The City of Lincoln Council’s new multi-million transport hub, which is due to complete by early 2018 and The Cornhill Quarter development, aimed at providing a unique mix of existing Lincoln retailers and boutique independents alongside nationwide names.
“Unfortunately, the construction activity required to bring about these two major developments is causing some disruption while work is ongoing. We have liaised directly with Karl McCartney MP and tenants regarding these concerns and are undertaking a comprehensive events programme to enliven the area. To date, this has included the hugely popular Day of the Dead Parade and Cornhill Memories campaign, aimed at celebrating the history of the area. We are also looking forward to welcoming the first new tenants to the Corn Exchange – Cosy Club, Moss Bros. and Flying Tiger Copenhagen – all of which are scheduled to open this summer. These names will no doubt draw more customers to the area for the benefit of all tenants, as will the completion of the transport hub.
“Through Lincoln BIG we have been meeting up regularly with traders to see what else can be done and Lincoln BIG is taking up the issue of a reduction in business rates on behalf of traders. As a landlord and tenant in the area, we also have other initiatives planned to directly respond to the immediate impact of the construction works and will make further planned announcements in due course.”
Angela Andrews, Chief Executive of City of Lincoln Council, said: “Unfortunately, and as Mr McCartney should be aware, the council has no power to determine business rates. The national Valuation Office is responsible for calculating revised rateable values for properties in these situations and, in order to come to a decision, they need to see evidence of a drop in business. Lincoln BIG has arranged to appeal the business rates for Sincil Street traders to ensure traders can keep any relief they are given and the council has supported the case for a business rate reduction.
“The council is willing to consider further relief if conditions of hardship can be evidenced and we are, of course, open to considering such cases.
“In addition, the council has offered to reschedule the business rates due for 2017-18 while the decision from the Valuation Office is awaited.
“The council is also continuing to proactively support the area, which includes the Central Market, through publicity and activities.”