Cardiff's central business district had been doing so well. The property industry seemed to like it. Cardiff and Co, the marketing company behind it, seemed to be saying and doing all the right things; and the council seemed to have its head screwed on and be heading in the right direction.
Then it got buffeted by two huge waves. The Welsh Government announced Local Enterprise Zones and said the CBD would be one of these. This move should have been positive but with Enterprise Zones introduced without remit, rules or boundaries the result has been to simply add another group of people through which all plans must be agreed. And, let's face, it's hard to find a single property person in Wales who think the Government make decision's swiftly.
Then the council announced it was delaying the local development plan, effectively paralysing development in Cardiff to howls from the local property industry.
Now it's business rates. Last week the Welsh Government announced it was launching an independent review of the business rates policy in Wales. It follows similar tax reviews announced in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The property industry is worried. Andrew Hetherton, business rates director for GL Hearn says both the Scottish and Ireland schemes have led to concern over the cost such a regressive tax could have on business; a cost which could ultimately undermine development and growth. You can read his comments in full below.
This is yet another knock for the CBD's grand, and much needed, vision for the area around Cardiff's station. With the economy worsening by the day, how many more knocks can it take?
We'll be taking a detailed look at Enterprise Zones, Cardiff's CBD and many more aspects of the local market in our Wales Focus in this Saturday's magazine.
Andrew Hetherton of GL Hearn responds to the Welsh Government's proposed review of business rates policy
"This review follows on quickly from the reviews announced in Scotland on using business rates to fund a Health Tax on alcohol and cigarettes and also in Northern Ireland with the announcement of a consultation on supporting small businesses by raising additional revenue through a larger retailer tax. Both schemes have led to concern over the cost such a regressive tax could have on business; a cost which could ultimately undermine development and growth."
"Whilst the formation of the review group is welcomed, it is essential for the Government to consult on its findings. Especially important is a commitment to ensure that any proposed changes are implemented in a timeframe that allows businesses to budget efficiently. Far too often proposals are put forward which are inadequately thought-thorough and don't allow sufficient time for businesses to plan and budget for proposed changes."
An independent working group has been set up by Business and Enterprise Minister, Edwina Hart. Led by Professor Brian Morgan, the group will consider current Welsh Business Rates policy and whether these policies meet the needs of Welsh business.
Picture by NotionsCapital.com on Flickr