Demolition has commenced on a modern multi-million pound office block in Aberdeen- which the owners say they have been forced to pull down due to rising business rates and a lack of interest from tenants.
Crews moved in to start tearing down the Dyce premises after housebuilder Malcolm Allan failed to find a tenant to cover the bill.
The Kintore-based firm saw the rateable value for the three-storey property rise from £250,000 to £270,000 at the 2015 revaluation.
This was despite them being unable to let it out since December. Firms are required to pay full rates on properties empty for more than three months.
The controversial revaluation, used to calculate rates, estimated the offices were worth nearly 10% more than in 2008.
The property was constructed in 1999 and has been vacant for three years with company bosses saying there had not been “any serious inquires” in that time.
Offices in the north-east were one of only two sectors offered temporary relief when the Scottish Government finally bowed to pressure to help struggling firms. The rise in bills – along with those of pubs and hotels – was capped at 12.5% for a year, with Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils also providing assistance.
When announcing the demolition, company technical manager Colin Wood revealed it would cost less than 12 months of rates, which meant it made more financial sense to bulldoze it.
North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said the demolition was a “symptom” of the “failure of leadership” at Holyrood over the business rates re-evaluation.
He said: “I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come, but I do think it’s a symptom of how badly the rates evaluation has gone wrong.
“Once upon a time, people left houses without their roofs to avoid rates, now it seems that perfectly viable commercial premises are being knocked down.
“We are in a position where 50% of this tax increase is being levelled on just 10% of the population in the north-east.
“I think this should concentrate minds at Holyrood.”
However, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has committed to around £660million of business rates relief this year, including an additional £7.5 million announced specifically for rates relief for businesses in Aberdeen.
“Local councils administer this relief, and we would strongly encourage Aberdeen City Council to promote it with local businesses to maximise take-up.”