Scots property sales slump

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The property sector has urged the Scottish government to work with the industry to unlock its potential for economic growth.

The appeal comes as new data revealed the value of commercial property sales have fallen by over 80 per cent since the start of the economic crisis.

More than 150 industry delegates gathered in Edinburgh for the Scottish Property Federation’s (SPF) annual conference to hear how years of low or no economic growth have led to a £5.1bn fall in the value of year-on-year commercial property sales since 2007.

To spur economic growth, the federation called on the Scottish government to:

Ensure planning fee increases go hand in hand with service improvements;

Pragmatic climate change regulations to improve the energy efficiency of homes and business premises in the light of continuing economic fragility;

Reform business rates policies, including the drag of empty property rates on commercial property investors and developers;

Support new infrastructure investment to boost the economy.

With retail vacancy rates at 26 per cent in some parts of Scotland, the conference also discussed the ongoing review of town centres and how the high street might evolve as a place to live, work and play in the future.

Jestyn Davies, chairman of the Scottish Property Federation and managing director of Murray Estates, said: “The wider picture of the low or no growth economy continues to affect the property industry harshly. It is vital that our political leaders understand that this remains a barrier and a constraint on jobs and economic growth in Scotland.

“There is great potential within our industry to contribute to national wealth and indeed to create jobs, improve placemaking and enhance the energy efficiency of commercial buildings: but we need the best possible regulatory and tax environment that allows the sector to attract investment and flourish.”