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Nurseries in UK & NI exempt from business rates

Business Rates
Since 1928 plant nursery grounds have been exempt from business rates as part of the general exemption for agriculture

Lobbying by HTA, NFU, and OHR succeeded in pressuring the government to make plant nursery grounds exempt for business rates



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5 April 2017

Plant nursery grounds in the UK and Northern Ireland will not be subject to business rates, despite a recent Court of Appeal decision, according to Marcus Jones, MP and minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Since at least 1928, plant nursery grounds have been treated by the Valuation Office Agency as exempt from business rates as part of the general exemption for agriculture.

However, following a recent Court of Appeal decision, the Valuation Office Agency has started to bring in business rates on buildings at nursery grounds including structures such as poly-tunnels.

“Many of our grower member businesses were facing business rate charges for the first time this year, where they had previously been exempt under an agricultural classification.

“In some cases this could have amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds, which could have put some members out of business.” said Raoul Curtis-Machin, the Horticulture Trade Association’s Director of Horticulture.

Addressing the House of Commons, MP Jones said: “I can confirm to the House that the Government’s policy is that land and buildings at plant nursery grounds should benefit from the agricultural exemption for business rates.

“Therefore, we intend at the soonest opportunity to amend the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to ensure both agricultural land and buildings at plant nursery grounds are exempt from business rates.”

The decision comes as a result of lobbying carried out by the National Farmers Union, backed by the Horticulture Trade Association, its expert ratings advisors Turner Morum LLP, and the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable.

The wording of the amendment has yet to be revealed and the timescale for the implementation of the changes remains unclear, however, the MP’s reassurance serves as confirmation to growers that they will be protected.


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