BELEAGUERED businesses in Edinburgh’s West End have secured a cut in their rates bills to compensate for the impact of the tram works.
Shops, bars and restaurants in Shandwick Place are being offered a temporary reduction in their rateable value until the nearby work is completed.
It could cut rates bills by thousands of pounds a year in some cases.
Around 60 businesses in Shandwick Place will be affected, meaning a potential rate bill cut of £325,000.
A similar scheme could now be extended to 100 other businesses along the tram route.
Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds welcomed the decision by the Lothians assessor and urged the traders to take up the offer.
She said: “I am pleased to hear the assessor has taken this decision, which will provide some financial relief to traders directly impacted by the tram works.
“While the decision only applies to those traders with frontages on Shandwick Place at this stage, we are optimistic that subsequent claims from traders in other parts of the city who have been directly affected by the tram works should deliver rates reductions for them as well.
“I would strongly encourage all traders who are on the tram route, and who believe the rental value of their business has been impacted by the tram works, to consider claiming an RV reduction. This week, we will be writing to all traders along the route of the trams, offering them guidance on how to make their claims.”
Businesses who accept the rates cut will in return have to drop any outstanding appeals over their rateable value. Most properties in Shandwick Place have such appeals outstanding.
The rates reduction will be backdated to autumn last year, when the tram works in Shandwick Place restarted, and will continue until the completion of work at that site, currently due in spring next year.
Shops will see their rateable value reduced by 20 per cent, while bars and restaurants might have a lesser reduction.
Lothians assessor Joan Hewton agreed to the move after seeing evidence of the impact of the trams works.
The council presented data comparing rental information provided by businesses in Shandwick Place with similar information from another part of the city unaffected by tram works.
Ms Hewton said: “Having looked at rental patterns, we are willing to offer them the 20 per cent. It will last for the period of the works and, once the roadworks disappear, it would go back up again.”