State throws lifeline to Scarborough businesses

The West Australian, 5 May 2017

Scarborough business owners affected by a $75 million beachfront redevelopment will receive act-of-grace payments from the State Government as they struggle to stay open during construction.

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti will announce today that the State Government will make the one-off payment capped at 50 per cent of the annual land tax payable by eligible businesses.

The West Australian revealed last month that one in two businesses surveyed did not expect to survive until November, when work is due to be completed.

Two businesses have been forced to shut after the construction work drove away 30-50 per cent of customers over summer.

Businesses were hit again when the Valuer-General awarded an increase of 5 per cent to average unimproved values for commercial properties in Scarborough in 2016-17, boosting land tax by thousands of dollars.

Ms Saffioti said she was looking at a system to help businesses disrupted during future Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority projects.

“We inherited a process that had no mechanism in place to support local businesses and we had to develop this process from scratch,” Ms Saffioti said.

“We have acted as quickly as possible to introduce an equitable form of support for traders at the … foreshore and look forward to seeing them prosper in the revitalised precinct.”

Sandbar hotel owner Ben Randall, who suffered a 30 per cent drop in trade, said the payment would help for a few weeks.

Mr Randall paid $31,000 in land tax in 2016-17 and would be eligible for a maximum $15,500 payment.

“I’m certainly not ungrateful but in the whole scheme of things, it’s not going to make much difference,” Mr Randall said.

Donny Collins, who lost his once-thriving Boho Espresso business, said the payment was “too little, too late”.

His maximum payout would be about $8500.

The Wild Fig cafe estimates it has lost $1 million in revenue.