the Business Forum and
the Economic Partnership
in Brighton & Hove
Homepage    BCRP Intranet    Funding    Events    Knowledgebase    Links    About us     Contact us
Key projects



Workforce development 


Business &

Property &
Development sites




Consultation opportunities

Brighton & Hove Business Forum
8-11 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, BN1 1EE
Tel: 01273 735442
Email: info@brighton

© Brighton & Hove
Business Forum

News - 16 April 2005
David Lepper, MP

MP calls for better support for small traders

David Lepper has put pressure on the council to influence the cost of rents and rates for small shop owners in the centre of Brighton. The independent retail sector is a main visitor attraction and it is struggling to survive against the conflicting odds of increasing rates and rents on the one hand and decreasing footfall on the other.

David Lepper, Labour and Co-operative party general election candidate for Brighton Pavilion, highlighted the plight of small traders in the city in a speech to Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce at the Thistle Hotel, Brighton, on 13 April.

David had been talking earlier in the week with traders in the Lanes about the problems of rising rents and business rates for smaller traders. He said, “These are exactly the people whose businesses give Brighton its individuality.

“It seems to me that as one of the leading property owners in the city centre the council could be looking at imaginative ways in which it might be able to use that role to influence rents to help ensure that we keep in Brighton and Hove those smaller businesses, particularly shops, which attract visitors and make the place such a lively city,” said David.

Vital citywide issues, David told his business audience, included keeping that essential mix of representation of national and international companies and the local, the individual, the quirky even which makes Brighton unique. He said, “Everywhere has its Debenhams and its Tesco, not everywhere has a major Amex headquarters, a shop specialising in vegetarian shoes, Epic, Future Media and the chance to sample every national cuisine on earth.

“That includes finding ways to ensure that many of those new successful businesses that start up here have the room to grow and stay.”


While every one would agree that the independent retail sector is an essential part of the city’s offer finding a way to protect it is not straightforward.

The North Laine Traders Association (NLTA) had its first discussions with the local authority about the system by which rents are determined nearly fifteen years ago. Little has changed since that time despite government attempts to persuade the property industry to abolish the much hated ‘upward only’ rent clauses that form a part of most commercial leases for small shops in Brighton & Hove. Last month's decision not to legislate against upward only clauses was a blow to small shop-keepers but widely welcomed by the property industry.

The clause means that, no matter how dire the economy, rents can at best only remain the same but never go down. This means that during a recession or an economic downturn independent retailers struggle to meet their overheads as turnover declines.

Up until the late 1990s it was customary for landlords to demand long-term leases of up to 20 years. Now, the increasing acceptance of shorter leases helps to alleviate the problem of rents spiralling out of control because at lease renewal the rent for a property is based on the open market rate and consequently can go down as well as up. Five year leases within the Landlord and Tenant Act which give security of tenure and without any reviews allow the tenant considerable flexibility but are not popular with landlords.

Local authrorities are limited in their scope to reduce rents for independent traders because they have a statutory duty to maximise their revenues from commercial property (which in turn helps to keep council tax down). Brighton & Hove City Council has however, shown willing to consider the term (length) of their leases and offer comprehensive information to small traders about rent reviews and renewals.

The best prospect for keeping rents (and consequently rates as well) at reasonable levels rests with the tenants themselves. Trader’s organisations need to give serious consideration to establishing a rent register in their areas that allow for the free transfer of information about rental levels and new precedents as they are set at review or renewal. It is only by knowing the ‘going rate’ for rent in a street that tenants can decide whether their landlord is asking for too much. Every shop-keeper should get professional representation at rent review from a qualified property consultant. Trader’s associations should also offer advice and guidance to newcomers to the area that might take a vacant unit paying far more than it is worth because they do not know the local area or its trading conditions.

Read related items on:
Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
Brighton & Hove City Council
North Laine Traders Association
Lepper, David

Browse our business Knowledgebase or search by keyword


22 February 2018
SE-ASSIST - Launch of Loan Capital in Greater Brighton
19 February 2018
House Price update Q4 2017 19 February 2018
What would you do in a crisis? 19 February 2018
The investment journey for high growth entrepreneurs 9 February 2018
Make Change Count 2018 - helping rough sleepers in Brighton & Hove 8 February 2018
Brighton Technology Company Paxton Announces Recipients of New Scholarship Programmein Association with the University of Brighton 8 February 2018
Cyber London Accelerator Invites Summer 2018 Entries 8 February 2018
Innovate UK Launches Strand 2 Emerging and Enabling Technologies Sector Competition 8 February 2018
Success In Sussex As Food And Drink Heroes Crowned Winners 8 February 2018
UK Games Fund - Fourth Round Open to Applications 8 February 2018
Innovate UK & Prince's Trust Launch Young Innovators' Programme 6 February 2018
Brighton & Hove Food Partnership launches 'Kit Out The Kitchen' crowdfunding campaign 2 February 2018
Brighton & Hove Council and Crest Nicholson win £15m government funding to kickstart King Alfred project 1 February 2018
Could a Utilise Plus Programme grant help you? 1 February 2018
Shoreham Port Facilitates Huge Operation 18 January 2018
IUK Announces Collaborative R&D Funding for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Simulation 18 January 2018
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Launches $1 Billion Corporate Venture Capital Fund for Next Generation Mobility 17 January 2018
PORTlife #17 Newsletter Out Now 17 January 2018
Over £19,000 raised for Burning the Clocks 2017 11 January 2018
Brighton Main Line Improvement Project: Planned closures in October 2018 and February 2019 11 January 2018
Come on in! Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 8 January 2018
Sussex Business SkillSnap targets hospitality industry skill shortage 3 January 2018
House Price update 2017 Q3 20 December 2017
£14.35 Million European Regional Development Fund Launched 19 December 2017
Leading the way - Sustainability in Action masterclass 15 December 2017
Brighton is among the best places to start a business due to their strong growth factors 15 December 2017
GTR consultation ends 20th Dec 2017 13 December 2017
Ethical Food StartUp Programme - Idea Generation Workshop 12 December 2017
Utilise Plus launch programme of energy efficiency grants and business support for SMEs 11 December 2017
City Centre Vacancy Rates Drop Slightly From Sept 5 December 2017
Innovate UK Announces Sector Competitions in Manufacturing and Infrastructure Systems 5 December 2017
GDPR, steps to early compliance 1 December 2017
The 29th Sussex Business Awards 2017 Winners Announced 1 December 2017
Old tech gear? Give IT a new lease of life 29 November 2017
Driving for Better Business Campaign launches 29 November 2017
ARKA Funerals sponsor Burning the Clocks 2017 with 'In Memory' lanterns 27 November 2017
Govia Thameslink launches third consultation phase on once-in-a-generation timetable restructure 23 November 2017
Coast to Capital Launches Brighton Mainline Alliance 22 November 2017
Calling all UK companies that have transport, parking and commuting issues to address 15 November 2017
Start-up Challenge Business Competition Offering £10,000 Investment to Young Entrepreneurs