Council to look into vacant window displays

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A draft proposal to allow for the display of goods in vacant commercial windows without incurring a rating liability is being considered by Ballymoney Borough Council.

During a recent Full Council meeting, members heard that the DFP Rating Policy Division have forwarded a draft proposal paper.

The report explained: ‘The proposal is to allow for the display of goods in vacant windows without incurring a rating liability. It was presented earlier this year when Simon Hamilton, the Finance Minister, met Peter Murray, Manager of Buttercrane Shopping Centre. The proposal was presented as a way of helping improve the appearance of shopping centres with high levels of vacancy. It involves a concession being made so that the window displays of empty shops can be used for the display of goods without incurring a full occupied rate.

‘Views on the proposal which has been issued to NIIRTA, Association of TCMs and local Chambers, are sought by 9 January 2015. It is recommended that Council consider the comments put forward.’

In response Elizabeth Johnston, Head of Corporate and Development Services, outlined questions and answers written on Council’s behalf.

She explained that Council agreed to the policy proposal, ‘subject to clarification that this proposal includes high streets and is not just confined to shopping centre’.

She also suggested that within the paper a number of recommendations and guidelines should be made which included the size of the window display, that the empty shop window should ‘only be made available to adjacent shops or in close proximity’, the display should contain a ‘minimum of at least two shops therefore limiting the potential for unfair competitive advantage’, there must be ‘no payment exchange for the use of the window display’, ‘the shop must not be open to the general public’ and ‘there should be no advertising material other than a typed plain card advising as to which shop the goods on display belong to’.

Members agreed with the recommendations.