London Property Alliance (WPA & CPA) has written to Government calling for support to ensure property owners have the financial flexibility to help their tenants during the COVID-19 crisis. Planning changes should be introduced to ensure the wider industry can continue investing and building as soon as possible.
Read our letter to the Chancellor here.
Read our letter to MHCLG here.
Our key asks of policymakers are:
1. Get London building: In order to protect ‘oven ready’ schemes, there should be an automatic two year extension to existing planning permissions and a reintroduction of the ability to renew permissions that are close to expiry. The Government should also bring forward alterations to Class A use classes to improve high street flexibility after COVID-19.
2. Financial flexibility: The capacity of some property owners to reduce, waive or defer rents will be driven by their funding agreements and covenant compliance. To enable property owners to contribute towards the best possible outcome for all will require flexibility from the lending sector.
UPDATE: The Bank of England prudential regulation authority has now issued guidance on debt and debt covenants. Read here.
3. Business rates: The rates waiver is not available to many small businesses that need it, as the rateable value of their premises is too high, particularly in London. Providing rates relief based on the size of the business, rather than its rates bill, would provide greater support to our members’ tenants.
4. Vacant buildings: The one-year business rates holiday is currently only available to occupied property in certain categories of use. This needs to be extended for a defined period to unoccupied space, given the prospect of lettings will be reduced until confidence returns.
5. Key workers: Providing essential building support and services could become increasingly difficult if restrictions are tightened even further. The Government needs to ensure those carrying out security and maintenance have the same rights of movement and access as all key workers.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback or suggestions for our engagement with policymakers during the COVID-19 crisis.