Since at least 1928, plant nursery grounds have been treated by the Valuation Office Agency as exempt from business rates as part of the general exemption for agriculture. However, following a recent Court of Appeal decision, the Valuation Office Agency has started to bring into business rates buildings at nursery grounds including structures such as polytunnels.
The exemption for agricultural properties is an important part of the rating system. It ensures that large areas of agricultural land and buildings are not liable to a property tax which could have a significant impact on the cost of farming. I can confirm to the House that the Government’s policy is that land and buildings at plant nursery grounds should benefit from the agricultural exemption for business rates.
Therefore, we intend at the soonest opportunity to amend the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to ensure both agricultural land and buildings at plant nursery grounds are exempt from business rates. This will return the law to align with the practice followed by the Valuation Office Agency before the decision in the Court of Appeal.