Property News - Revaluation will hit London stores hardest

Rating experts are forecasting substantial rates increases for retailers from 2005, but the patchy property market means there will be wide regional variations in the revaluation.

Business rates across the country will be based on rental values as at April 1, which means that surveyors will now begin to forecast potential liabilities.

Gerald Eve head of rating Jerry Schurder said London retailers will face an average increase of about 15 per cent. However, Covent Garden retailers could see rates bills rise by more than 75 per cent. 'Covent Garden has seen strong rental growth for several years and occupiers in this area faced hefty increases in their rates bill at the last revaluation,' said Schurder.

He forecast that some Kensington High Street occupiers will see a hike in rates liabilities of about 20 per cent, as may the King's Road.

The City of London will also see a considerable increase in liabilities because its status as a retail location has risen sharply in the past five years, with several high-profile tenants having located there recently.

But on Oxford Street, the market has remained static in the face of falling tourist numbers and rates levels are forecast to remain largely unchanged. Prime Knightsbridge locations are expected to see marginal falls.