The leader of Merton council has described the closure of Debenhams as a “body blow” to Wimbledon town centre.
Councillor Stephen Alambritis said the council was currently putting pressure on the landlords of the anchor store in the Centre Court shopping centre, which closed its doors last month (to decrease rent so other stores can move in).
Back in April 2019 it was announced that the department store would be one of 22 across the country to close due to financial problems.
Cllr Alambritis said: “The landlord will be paying empty business rates and for security and getting no rent.
“We will apply as much pressure as we can, it’s a body blow to Centre Court.
“As you went down into Debenhams you would pop into other shops on the way through.
“In Wimbledon there is a seven per cent vacancy rate. We are working with Love Wimbledon to make sure these vacancies are filled as quickly as possible.
“Office space is crucial, the Wimbledon Plan combines the ability to fill these vacancies but also more office space.”
The council leader said that the council would be giving business rates relief to 600 businesses across Mitcham, Morden, Colliers Wood and Wimbledon.
There are around 6,000 businesses in the borough and Merton council collects about £90 million of business rates a year and keeps 44 per cent of this, with the rest going back to central government.
It is worked out on how big the business is, with very small businesses, like dry cleaners and some cafes qualifying for 100 per cent relief.
To help out landlords in the borough around 30 pubs also stand to have £1,000 taken off their business rate bills, after the re-introduction of the Government’s Pub Relief scheme.
To qualify for the Pub Relief the ‘rateable value’ (this is the open market rental value) of the premises has to be up to £100,000.
More information about Merton’s business rates can be found here.
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