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Just noticed that the Leila London has been let. To another bloomin' chartity shop. This is the 6th! I know they're nowhere near as bad as having 6 betting shops (as Green Lanes do), but I am starting to worry about the way the shops in Crouch End are going.
Charity shops pay 20% of business rates, which makes it relatively easy to open one. Normal shops pay something like £1K per month. What do they actually get for their money, I wonder, and why are business rates so steep? We want to keep our selection of amazing local shops, and at this rate all that will be left are coffee shops, estate agents and charity shops.
Could we lobby the council for lower business rates for shops in the are? Save the local high street is a hot topic at the moment, surely someone wants to be involved and help?
I'm not a shop owner myself, I just love where I live, and want to keep it as it is!
Since 1988, there has been no local authority involvement in the setting of business rates. The system we have now is commonly referred to as the 'universal business rate'. Local authorities merely send out the bill and arrange collection. The rate is set centrally, and then all revenue goes to central government (mostly- this changes a bit in April). It is then redistributed back to the authority via an enormously complex revenue grant formula. There is a long and technical discussion here and here.
The main upshot of this is that business rates in Haringey are the same as equivalent properties in Islington, Richmond, Newcastle or Leicester (the word 'equivalent' is important in that sentence). The charity exemption is set in statute and a local authority has no discretion to change it. Parenthetically, I find it interesting that even though this change has been in force for 25 years, so many people do think the local authority has powers in this area. Haringey Council is not without blame - its parking charges are just plain daft, but it is probably not the main culprit.
My guess is that Leilas's probably paid about £7,000 per year in rates (anyone got a better guess?). By far the bigger cost for them would have been their leasehold rent. Rents vary between shops depending on when they signed their lease and how long it was for: it is clear that several shops in Crouch End have very long leases at low rates (perhaps their owners were canny/lucky enough to buy out their lease when CE was less popular). But if you were unlucky enough to lease at the height of the boom, then again I would guess a double front shop in prime position in Tottenham Lane might be renting for £40,000 per year. And the local authority have no influence on landlords, particularly with so many of them overseas or in tax havens who have little interest in the area.
Typically landlords will lease at a low rent to a charity shop on the basis of a month's notice, hoping for a better tenant when the economy picks up. Unfortunately, too great a concentration of charity shops can mean the area loses its shopping cachet.
Leasehold reform is one of those areas that can be added to the long list of things not tackled by Gordon Brown. Unfortunately, it is clearly off the list for the present government, because the Mary Portas Review made no reference at all to rents. Crouch End is little different from many areas, where shopkeepers are having to negotiate the Scylla of rising leasehold rents and the Charybdis of internet shopping to survive. Sadly, I am pessimistic about changes to the system without it first seriously breaking even more. Which is bad news for the ordinary people of Crouch End.
A stirring image to think of shop keepers in our straitened high streets as Odyssean heroes, braving the monsters of rent and rates.
The charity moving into Leila's is the Child's Air Ambulance, and I have seen quite a few Northamptonshire, Rutland and Derbyshire air ambulance vans parked in nearby streets recently.
I'm quite surprised that the view of a new charity shop opening is such a terrible thing to happen - I'm quite happy to have another store where I can feel like I'm making a difference by paying for an item or donating my unwanted things for them to reuse and recycle. I've volunteered at a charity a few times and it's given me an opportunity to boost my skills in a retail environment, make new friends with the locals and make me feel like I'm doing some good with my spare time. I'm not phased about charity organisations have cheaper rent - their main source of donations is with the shops. If they didn't have this option then most of these charity's will have to be shut down, there will be a negative impact on the environment and there will be no help to those who need it the most.
I do agree to a certain point - I do love the fact that we have some independent businesses here in Crouch End and having more of this would be lovely, but unfortunately spaces to rent for these are unrealistic at the moment. Should we really blame charity shops for high rents being issued by landlords to 'normal' businesses?? I'd rather see the space used for something that helps the community and other people around the world, rather than being empty and unused.
Is it because people think a row of charity shops makes a street look ugly? I'm totally lost.
It's not that one charity shop is opening, it's the fact that it's the 6th on a short stretch of road. A cluster of the same type shop is not good whatever the shop is. The problem is that the charity shops seems to be the only ones taking over vacant premises, as no one else can afford rent and business rates. That's my issue with it. I'd rather rents and rates were made affordable for startup businesses than an endless stream of charity shops. Unfortunately, according to Charlie Sharp's post, that is extremely unlikely to happen, so in the meantime I for one will vote with my feet and wallet, and will not be using any of the charity shops. I'm giving to my charity of choice anyway, so that does not bother me.
I think CE is quite well served - I could buy a new set of leathers and a crash hat at Motoden, opposite the Police Station (although soon we'll be needing a fully functional cop shop) and arcane items of hardware at Patel's and Bishop's, as well as much more mainstream stuff . REAL plugs a gap (and maybe a socket) with electrical stuff.
A Poundland might fill much of the hole left by Woolie's.
The should be differential business rates for different kinds of shops. So that our dear friends the estate agents would pay, say, twice or three times the current rate and shops that sell food or books should pay ten per cent. There could also be a premium for chains so that Starbucks would pay additional rates to local coffee shops. This could also apply to charities so that North London Hospice would pay less than chains such as Oxfam and Barnado's.