Harris Lamb Blog – Local Business Rates

Andy Groves

25th August, 2011.

Local Accountability on Business Rates.

By Andrew Groves, Associate Director, Commercial Agency.

The route provides 27 miles of privately funded and operated highway from Coleshill in North Warwickshire to Cannock in South Staffordshire.  The road carried an average 47,592 vehicles on weekdays in the summer of 2010  and from my experience of the Toll Road, private cars form the vast majority of the traffic.
The M6 Toll Road was identified as an “M6 Relief Road” to alleviate congestion on the M6, which is something many people feel has not been adequately addressed and, with one way car tolls at peak periods of £5, this is something to be debated elsewhere.
From a property perspective the benefits have probably been more tangible than the traffic improvements.  The southern end of the Toll Road and the ‘T1’ junction close to J4 M6 coincided with some of the latter stage build projects at the Hams Hall National Distribution Park, a 430 acre business park which ranks as one of the best such employment parks in the UK.
Junctions T2 and T3 appear to largely function as commuter gateways for those living to the south and east of Sutton Coldfield from where national motorway access has improved considerably and the effect on house prices has been positive in these areas.
The access to Junctions T4 and T5 at Weeford and Lichfield has given a stimulus to residential and commercial property markets alike with possibly the biggest winner being the 300 acre Fradley Park, where some of the largest distribution buildings in the area have been built with more to come.  We are marketing the new Fradley Prologis Scheme with 70 acres and units to 700,000 sq ft available to be built and which will be on site shortly.
T6 Burntwood, a forgotten part of the West Midlands conurbation 10 years ago for business and for new build residential perhaps, has not quite been “transformed” but certainly “considerably improved”.
T7 & T8 and the Cannock access points to the Toll Road provided the catalyst that has helped to promote the former coal mining town into a first rate employment location.  Significant development of a cross section of employment type accommodation from offices to manufacturing and warehouse operations has bought vitality to Cannock which I think is largely due to the Toll Road passing the town’s doorstep.

For those drivers who still regularly sit stationary on the M6 between junction 8 and 10 bemoaning the state of the traffic and whether the Toll Road has done the job it promised, the tangible benefits are probably in property as much as traffic counts.  The commercial new build and viability of new schemes along the entire length of the Toll Road has been transformed since the road was built.


It is a great idea, following a recent announcement of policy, that the government is pushing for Councils to retain Business Rates generated within their Borough.  The process will strengthen the bonds of local accountability and the partnership principles of local government and local business. 

Communities secretary Eric Pickles recently published plans to allow councils to use tax increment financing and keep their own business rates.

We see plenty of examples where local councils should intervene more positively in dialogue with existing occupiers in their area or with potential new business occupiers, listening and intervening with the companies will help to promote better local business partnerships.

I agree with Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, who said: “This should give Councils a greater incentive to promote local business growth.  Indeed, developers see it as one of the most positive steps that government could take to back sustainable development.”

Incentivising Councils to think and act in the best interest of the local business is a welcome move by government in our view.

There is risk as, if the detail is not thought through, prosperous Councils may become richer with cash-strapped Councils left behind.  However, this is really good news for Councils struggling to find funding for regeneration.

For advice and assistance on all aspects of Commercial Property, Andy would be happy to help. He can be reached on 01782 272555 or via email: andrew.groves@harrislamb.com.        

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article or weblog (‘blog’) are the personal views of the contributors and authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of any named companies or thier employees.