Longford County Council (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Council’) is providing a Business Incentive Scheme to encourage the use of vacant commercial premises. The Council is aware of the current challenges facing businesses in County Longford and the difficulties for new businesses to gain a foothold during recessionary periods. The purpose of the scheme is to give an incentive to both landlords and new aspiring business owners/leasees to occupy vacant premises by lowering entry costs through a grant related to the level of rates payable on the property.
By encouraging the occupation of vacant premises the Council will also support the improvement in the appearance and attraction of the commercial properties and thereby will contribute indirectly to increased footfall for existing businesses. Through the scheme, the Council will also encourage increased diversity of business activities and its positive effects on existing businesses.
This scheme sets out the mechanism, eligibility and conditions for new businesses to receive financial assistance from the Council for the purpose to locate in premises that have been vacant for a period exceeding 6 months.
Funds generated by the scheme in 2015 will be ring-fenced in the 2016 budget for a scheme to be drawn up to reward existing rate-payers / promote business. This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis.
Aims of the Scheme
- To encourage and support a qualifying business that might occupy vacant commercial or industrial premises registered on the Local Authority Register of Vacant Premises (produced annually by the Council’s Income Generating Unit).
- To facilitate opportunities for new businesses that have been established and grown in Longford Community Enterprise Centre and the New Frontiers Programmes run by the Midlands Innovation & Research Centre in Athlone I.T.
- To facilitate the development of new retail, office and related commercial and industrial services that will revitalise commercial centres in the County.
- To support new business creation as a means of generating new vibrancy in Longford Town and other urban centres.
- To support the continued role of retail and wider commercial centres in the urban fabric of the County and their prominence as business destinations.
- To demonstrate the serious commitment of the Council to contribute to economic development, regeneration and recovery in the County.
Potential displacement will be a primary concern in determining the eligibility of any application to the scheme. The executive may deem a project to be ineligible if it has the potential to lead to displacement of existing enterprises.
The Scheme will be available to:
- a newly established business
- an existing business relocating or expanding from outside the County
- an existing business maintaining current location and expanding into a new location
The Scheme is applicable to the use of existing rated commercial properties that are listed as vacant on Longford Local Authorities Register of Vacant Properties, produced by 31st January each year. (no exceptions)
The following prerequisites apply to the subject premises:
There are no outstanding enforcement proceedings or monies due to the Council under the Planning & Development Acts 200-2014 or the Derelict Sites Act 1990.
There are no outstanding or current commercial rates, or any other local authority charges owing on the subject premises for which the grant is sought.
The qualifying uses under this scheme are shops, offices, commercial and industrial businesses.
Conditions to the above include the following:
- The proposed use is in accordance with existing planning permission on the premises.
- The proposed use must not generally include any of the uses or types of businesses in attached Schedule A. The Council may at its discretion award a grant to a premises included in Schedule A where in its opinion there may be a specific local need for that type of premises.
The following requirements apply to all applicants:
- The applicant must be the owner or lessee of the subject premises.
- The applicant must have a current Tax Clearance Certificate.
- The applicant must sign up for Standing Order payments of any charges due to the Council.
- The application must be accompanied by a lease agreement whereby the parties agree to a minimum rolling three year lease period, renewed each year.
The following conditions will lead to immediate disqualification and/or cessation of grant aid under the rules of this Scheme:
- Failure to remain current on any charges will result in the immediate cessation of the Scheme and the removal of supports.
- Changes to the uses or any of the requirements for the applicant stated above that materially alter the original application for grant aid.
Grants may be paid by the Council to qualifying applicants in respect of the rates struck for the subject premises as follows:
- End of Year 1 Grant payable equivalent to 75% of rate paid for subject year (i.e. 12 month period of trading)
- End of Year 2 Grant payable equivalent to 50% of rate paid for subject year
- End of Year 3 Grant payable equivalent to 25% of rate paid for subject year
This scheme only makes provision for payment of a grant towards the costs associated with the occupation of qualifying vacant properties and does not mitigate in any way the obligation of qualifying applicants to discharge all fees associated with other approvals which may be required to be obtained from Council i.e. planning fees, s.254 licences, and development contributions.
The initial application must be accompanied by the following:
- Completed application form
- Evidence of unit vacancy exceeding 6 months.
- Evidence of ownership and occupation of unit (e.g. Land Registry Certificate) or 3 year lease agreement
- Evidence of permissions/consents for proposed use
- Evidence of payment of contributions (if applicable), rates and local authority charges
- Copy of Current Tax Clearance Certificate
- Evidence that expanding business is continuing in its current location and that all its obligations to the local authority are up to date.
Effective period for operation of Scheme
This scheme will be available up to and including 31st December 2016.The Scheme will be reviewed after a period of 6 months in operation.
The Scheme may be the subject of review and amendment at any time by Longford County Council.
The scheme will continue to apply to an approved applicant for 3 years even if the scheme is subsequently withdrawn or amended.
Assessment of Applications
Each application will be assessed in accordance with this Scheme. The Council will interpret each application on face value according to its own discretion. The Council may request further information before or after the evaluation of an application. The Council may communicate to the applicant those aspects of the application that could lead to disqualification or refusal of a grant. The Council may accept an amended application following a request for more information or amendments to the original application.
Any grant aid awarded on foot of a successful application will be subject to the availability of the necessary funds to implement this Scheme.
Click here to download an application form.
Completed application forms with attached documentation to be submitted to Michael Nevin, Head of Enterprise, Longford County Council: firstname.lastname@example.org