Open for Business Incentive Scheme

Business Incentive Scheme to Encourage the Use of Vacant Commercial Premises

Introduction

The Open for Business scheme is a business incentive scheme that will provide grant on commercial rates for up to three years for businesses re-occupying properties that have been vacant for long periods of time. Offaly County Council wants to encourage thriving and diverse business centres and wants to see the number of vacant retail/ commercial properties decrease. This grant is intended to incentivise and encourage reoccupation of vacant retail/commercial properties.

The grant is a temporary measure that applies to businesses moving into previously empty retail/commercial premises between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017. Grant will be available for three years from the first day the property becomes occupied as long as the first day falls between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017, subject to the property remaining continuously occupied for twelve months.

Objectives of Scheme

  • To reduce the number of vacant properties.
  • To improve the commercial offer and diversity
  • To encourage new commercial ventures.
  • To assist in job creation and ongoing employment.

The scheme will take the form of a grant in respect of Rates Paid on the said premises to Qualifying Applicants in respect of Qualifying properties as follows:

Year 1                          Grant equivalent to 75% of rate demand for subject year.

Year 2                          Grant equivalent to 50% of rate demand for subject year.

Year 3                          Grant equivalent to 25% of rate demand for subject year.

Year 4                          Full rates will be paid by applicant

Commercial premises which qualify for the scheme will not be eligible to avail of this scheme again for a period of 4 (Four) Years. If a premises avails of the Grant and the new venture closes after one year then the vacant property will not normally, become eligible to participate in the scheme until is has been vacant for one full year.

The Grant will be paid after the payment of the annual commercial rate demand for that year for the property in question.

Qualifying conditions of property/unit

  • The unit must have been vacant and on the open market for sale or lease for an one year immediately prior to the occupation by the applicant.
  • The unit must be rated or rateable.
  • The unit must be owned by the applicant or subject to a minimum 12 month lease
  • The unit must have the appropriate permissions and consents for the proposed use
  • The unit must have all rates, contributions and local authority charges paid in full at the time of the application.
  • The applicant must have a current Tax Clearance Certificate

Uses excluded from scheme on key town centre premises

  • Amusement arcades or premises with gaming machines
  • Head shops
  • Cash for Gold or Cash for clothes shops

Qualifying Applicants    

  • The applicant must have all local authority charges payable by them on all properties paid in full at the time of the application.
  • The applicant has not been operating a commercial business of the same type in the previous year.
  • This shall not result in the displacement of a business from one property to another except in the case of up-scaling.

Application

The initial application form must be accompanied by the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Evidence of unit vacancy
  • Evidence of ownership and occupation of unit (e.g. Land Registry Certificate) or lease agreement
  • Evidence of permissions/consents for proposed use
  • Evidence of payment of contributions (if applicable), rates and local authority charges
  • Copy of tax clearance certificate

Assessment of Applications

Each application will be assessed in accordance with this Scheme. 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 declination of aid. The Council may accept an amended application following a request for more information or amendments to the original application.

The decision of the Council is final.

Review

  • This scheme will be reviewed annually.
 

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