Lincolnshire licensee seeks change of use to cut business rates

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

The Light Bar's business rates are currently £80,500 but could drop to £30,000 if the bill is recalculated
The Light Bar's business rates are currently £80,500 but could drop to £30,000 if the bill is recalculated

Related tags Business rates Business rates in england and wales Voa

A Lincolnshire licensee is battling to change the use of his building from a pub to a nightclub, after estimating that the move would reduce his business rates by around £50,000 a year.

Mark Deans was given approval by North Lincolnshire Council in September to change the use of the Light Bar in Scunthorpe to a nightclub following a year-long battle.

However, he is still waiting for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to approve this change and reassess his business rates accordingly. If granted, it would mean he would pay rates based on the floor area of the venue rather than its annual turnover.

Since taking on the 700-capacity bar a year ago, Deans faced an £80,500 annual rates bill but, based on the rates of similar nightclubs in the area, he estimates he would pay around £30,000 if the VOA recalculates the bill.

Crippling rates

Deans pointed out that the current business rate was assessed in 2008, when the night-time economy was more successful and there were fewer venues.
He is worried that, if the rates are not changed, it will cripple his business, particularly as he trades only on Friday and Saturday nights.

“A nearby licensee is paying £36,000 for a very similar venue — if I’m the same, why am I still classed as a bar? £80,000 rates is a lot for Scunthorpe,” he told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​.

Floor size

Deans said the VOA has confirmed receiving the paperwork requesting to change the pub’s use and business rates, but has not said when it will respond.
Deans also runs the nearby Class 6 bar and said all pubs and bars should have a rateable value based on floor size rather than turnover.

“Class 6 does well — more than it should for its size — and I get penalised for that. I don’t think that’s fair at all,” he said.

A VOA spokesperson said it aims to handle change-of-use cases within an average of 10 working days but refused to comment on the specifics of this case.

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