Forecourt businesses in Northern Ireland are being urged to submit forms needed for the revaluation of business rates in the province.

Land & Property Services (LPS) is reminding business ratepayers in Northern Ireland that time is running out to submit a Form of Return as part of the non-domestic revaluation project. Analysis of the evidence collected has started, so business ratepayers are being urged to submit the necessary information right away.

LPS says the revaluation is particularly significant for the petrol-retailing sector, which has seen a decrease in numbers of filling stations in Northern Ireland over recent years. Current rates bills are calculated using 2001 values, which don’t provide a fair representation of the sector today.

Information on current throughout figures in the petrol-retailing sector is needed in order for LPS to assess fair valuations. Rates bills using the new valuations will be issued from April 2015.

A draft Valuation Scheme specific to filling stations has been written. Preliminary consultations with local oil companies and agents representing over 100 filling stations have taken place and have resulted in broad acceptance of the proposed scheme; discussions are ongoing and it is hoped that, when finalised, the scheme will be made public through the LPS website.

Brian Donaldson, chief operating officer of the Maxol Group, said: “The current scheme has been in need of review for some time and we welcome the proposed new structure which takes account of the latest property values and market factors. Fuel retailing is one of the most competitive sectors and it is critical for retailers that they are accurately assessed and have confidence in the rating formulae. On what we have seen of the new proposed scheme, we feel it is more equitable to all players and addresses the changes that have taken place in the market from 2001.”

Wilfred Mitchell, policy chair of the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland has also reinforced the importance of the exercise, saying: “If you have received a letter from Land & Property Services requesting information about your non-domestic property please do respond immediately. This revaluation is important and long-overdue so businesses must get involved.”

Adding his voice to the call for local businesses to support the exercise is Stephen Dunlop, regional chair for the Association of Town Centre Management: “Today business rate bills are calculated using 2001 values. After the revaluation they will use 2013 values. This will correct the imbalance that currently exists in the rating system. It is therefore hugely important that businesses contribute to the exercise and provide the rental information that LPS is requesting.”

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