Tax rise ‘a threat to listed buildings’ says Bradford property expert (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Tax rise ‘a threat to listed buildings’ says Bradford property expert
7:00am Monday 24th September 2012 in News
A property expert has warned more than 6,000 listed buildings across Bradford district face an uncertain future because of “barking mad” tax changes taking effect from next month.
The Government is changing VAT rules which mean that, in future, alterations and restoration work on listed buildings will face the 20 per cent tax.
Andrew Mason, a former chairman of Bradford Property Forum, said: “I think it is ridiculous when we are trying to protect buildings. We have got brownfield sites, we have got contamination and we have got buildings that need to be brought back into use.
“What we should be doing is re-using existing buildings, turning chapels into homes and warehouses into restaurants, for example, but having to pay more tax is going to make that more difficult and is counter-intuitive to what the Government is trying to do.
“The Government is trying to stimulate building, but this is pulling the other lever by making it more difficult for developers.
“The knock-on effect is that we are not going to bring these buildings back, they are going to fall into a further state of disrepair and we will lose the cultural and historical heritage that makes our landscape.”
Mr Mason, whose company Newmason properties restored and renovated the 139-year-old Victoria Mills in Salts Mill Road, Shipley , into a £70 million apartment complex, revealed he had also put together plans to restore the old Conditioning House in Canal Road, Bradford.
He said: “We just about made that work, but you can forget that now. It has just gone out of the window because the increase in costs would make that prohibitive. It is the same as many schemes which were on the margins which will now be sunk under water. In 15 years, we are going to be saying, ‘why are all these buildings falling into disrepair? Why are developers not developing these buildings?’ and we will trace it back to this barking mad increase in tax making development unworkable.”
Mr Mason said the property forum’s latest survey had found 6,400 listed buildings in the district, many of them terraced houses in the Saltaire World Heritage Site.
He added: “This tax increase will then increase pressure to build on the green belt rather than bring back brownfield sites and we really do not need to pour more concrete on the countryside.”
The new rules, agreed in Chancellor George Osborne’s April budget, will see the 20 per cent tax coming into force at the start of October.
Grants have been made available for conservation projects in a bid to counteract the impact of the new tax rules.
Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “I totally understand people’s concerns because this is going to increase costs for developers.
“I am not a big fan of putting up any taxes and it is expensive enough doing up listed buildings. This seems like an extra kick in the teeth.”