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Monday 10 December 2018

London clubs under threat from ‘crippling’ business rates

Some clubs and bars are facing increases of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Business rates are hurting London's clubs
Business rates are hurting London's clubs

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Clubbers in the capital could hear the music turned off as soaring business rates threaten some of London’s best-known party venues.

An analysis undertaken by property firm Colliers shows that some clubs and bars are facing increases of hundreds of thousands of pounds under the Government’s rating system which came into force last year.

KOKO on Camden High Street saw a 236% rise in its rateable value in the 2017 listing, which means its rates bill will rocket from £75,482 a year to £272,930 a year by 2021/22.

Undersolo was slapped with a 151% rise in its rateable value and Dirty Bones Soho a 143% hike, while Cafe De Paris and Cirque Le Soir are seeing 60% and 50% rises respectively.

John Webber, head of business rating at Colliers International, said: “That’s a lot of dancing to cover.

“That’s not to say these clubs won’t survive – but it does show what pressure the industry is in at the moment.

“The Government really must reform the business rates system further to make it fairer for businesses hit by such rises.

“Merely linking rate rises to CPI as opposed to RPI inflation figures is simply not doing enough.”

It comes after the Sir Richard Branson-owned Kensington Roof Gardens, one of London’s most iconic venues, said it would close as it struggles to deal with costs including business rates.

The Gardens boasts four flamingos, a running stream and an Iberian segment based on the Alhambra in Granada.

But according to numbers crunched by Colliers, it was hit by a 47% rise in its rateable value following the 2017 revaluation, meaning its rates bill would have been over £86,000 higher at £294,410 in 2017/2018 as opposed to £208,092.50 in 2016/17, a rise of over 41%.

By 2021/22, Kensington Roof Gardens would have been paying a “crippling” rates bill of £328,630 a year.

“The dead duck of business rates is seeing off the pink flamingos at Kensington Roof Gardens, like so many other venues in the nightlife sector, creating an increasing drain on their operators,” Mr Webber added.

“Such businesses have been impacted by the rises in rents, by the rise in the National Living Wage and rising prices linked to inflation and are feeling increasingly vulnerable as they struggle to gets costs under control.”

“There has been a lot of comment about how pubs and bars across the country are closing because of onerous business rate rises, but it’s interesting that the high-end London leisure scene is being affected too.”

Press Association

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