A group of retailers in Rotherham, including two Co-operative stores, could earn a 10% refund on their business rates because the area they are trading in has gone into decline since their rate valuation.

The Valuation Tribunal Service upheld the retailers' appeal after it was proven that a number of shops in the Rotherham area had closed in the time between when the rates were calculated in 2003 and when they came into effect in 2005.

As well as a partial refund for rates paid between 2005-10, they could win a reduction in rates payable for 2010-15, which were calculated in 2008 when the economy was booming.

Co-op group valuation manager Hilary Witts said she was pleased with the decision. "Just walking around the town centre you can see the effect the closure of shops has had," she said. "The reduction in rates payable should be a welcome boost for the local economy."

Business rates appeals can be made if a retailer believes that they have been paying a higher rate than their neighbouring properties, or if local circumstances have changed (such as ongoing roadworks), or if there are a high proportion of empty shops in the area.

There was anger among retailers when the 2010-2015 rates were announced, with c-store owners seeing increases of up to 250%, and forecourt owners facing rises of up to 600%.

Cian O'Carroll of rates advisor Colliers International said that retailers who felt their business rates were too high and who believed a high proportion of shops nearby have closed should consider appealing.

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