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The topic covers floorspace, rateable value, and rateable value per square metre for different types of commercial and industrial properties in England and Wales; property and employee statistics for town centres and retail cores; and the extent of retail development in England.


Extent of retail development taking place within town centres in England
Department: Communities and Local Government
Data on retail development within town centres.

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Commercial and industrial floorspace and rateable value

Commercial and industrial floorspace and rateable value statistics of 1 April each year are produced by Communities and Local Government in collaboration with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

These data are of use to local authority planners and policy makers, the property profession and others requiring information on the non-domestic stock. The data also feed directly into the Communities and Local Government project to identify Areas of Town Centre Activity (ATCAs).

The dataset provides information on five different types of commercial and industrial properties (known as hereditaments) in England and Wales.

These five types are broadly known as 'bulk classes' and include the following properties:

  • Retail premises

  • Offices

  • Factories

  • Warehouses

  • Other bulk premises

Areas of Town Centre Activity

Communities and Local Government identifies around 1,280 ATCAs (town centres) and around 600 retail cores in England and Wales using a statistical model that incorporates Annual Business Inquiry employee data and commercial and industrial floorspace data. Statistics for employees, commercial and industrial floorspace and rateable values are shown for each of these town centres.

Extent of retail development in England

The non-domestic floorspace statistics in combination with the ATCA boundaries are also used to monitor the extent of retail development in town centre locations and edge of town centre locations in England.

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Technical Data

Non-domestic Floorspace and Rateable Value Statistics

The commercial and industrial floorspace and rateable value statistics are derived from a download of administrative ratings data from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

The VOA assesses the 1.8 million non-domestic properties in England and Wales that are liable for business rates and collects information on these properties, including the type of property, the location, the floorspace and rateable value.

The VOA database is designed to support the timely and accurate assessment of rateable values and the generation of statistics is a secondary role of the databases and considerable processing is required before the data can be used for statistical purposes.

For full details on the processing stages, consult Commercial and Industrial Floorspace and Rateable Value Statistics 1998-2004 and Commercial and Industrial Floorspace and Rateable Value Statistics 2005.

Town Centres

The Areas of Town Centre Activity (‘ATCAs’ or ‘town centres’) boundaries are produced using a statistical modelling procedure that allows consistent comparison of town centres across England and Wales. The boundaries produced are different to local authority planning boundaries as these are not defined on a comparable basis, although local authorities have been consulted on the accuracy of the boundaries and statistics.

The statistical model makes use of business information on the number of employees in the retail and office sectors from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Business Inquiry and statistics on retail and office properties from the VOA on 1 April every year, to identify areas that have a high density of economic activity that is typically associated with town centres.

Having identified the boundaries of the town centres (which are drawn around areas of high density of activity), each one is populated with the employee and property statistics, to produce a consistent set of boundaries and statistics.

The methodology employed to determine ATCAs has some limitations; it is not possible to define some of the smaller primary retail areas within the main agglomerations. This was most notable in Central London where many of the key concentrations of town centre activity (such as the West End) cannot be shown.

In order to capture these types of area, which are predominantly retail concentrations, a trimmed down model was produced that only modelled retail activity (retail employment, retail floorspace and retail diversity). The resulting boundaries are called ‘Retail Cores’.

Town Centres and Retail Core boundaries are available for all centres sized two hectares and over. Statistics are only shown for centres of four hectares and over. Some statistics for some centres are suppressed as they are disclosive.

The Town Centre and Retail Core statistics should be treated with some caution. Floorspace and rateable value statistics are considered more reliable than the employee data as they are based on information collected for all individual non-domestic properties. The employee data from the Annual Business Inquiry are based on a sample survey and employee counts for some businesses are based on estimates produced by ONS. There is therefore error associated with the estimates of employees for individual town centres.

More information on how the boundaries are derived can be found on the Communities and Local Government website.

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  • Area of town centre activity

    A town centre area, modelled using retail and office floorspace data, and retail and office employees data. These modelled boundaries are not consistent with local authority planning boundaries.

  • ATCA

    Area of Town Centre Activity

  • Bulk classes

    The ‘bulk class’ group of hereditaments (around 1.4 million in total) consists of retail premises, offices, factories, warehouses and a small miscellaneous group defined as ‘other bulk premises’ which consists mainly of halls, social clubs and garden centres. The bulk class properties are those for which floorspace and other descriptive information is consistently available.

  • Factories

    These range from small workshops to very large manufacturing units. Industrial hereditaments where the rateable value is not primarily derived from floorspace (for example, iron and steel plants, chemical works and refineries) are classed as non-bulk.

  • Floorspace

    For many of the more common types of commercial properties, the Valuation Office Agency measures the floorspace of the property as part of the detailed internal surveys that it undertakes to assess rateable values.

  • Floorspace measurement

    The VOA measurement conventions follow the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Code of Measurement Practice. The floorspace measurement convention used for different properties is given below. Some properties in certain areas do not comply with this code and follow established local practice. Retail premises and offices: Net Internal Area (NIA). Includes most space useful to the business of an occupant, and excludes common areas, stairwells, and foyers. The lift shafts, walls and columns are also excluded. Factories and warehouses: Gross Internal Area (GIA). Includes all internal area, but excludes external walls. Other bulk premises: Depending on the type, measurement can be NIA or GIA.

  • Hereditaments

    The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) collects information on properties or ‘hereditaments’. All the statistics in the dataset relate to hereditaments. A hereditament is a property on which rates may be charged and is the unit to which the VOA assigns ‘rateable value’ (see below). In general, hereditaments are buildings or premises within buildings, appropriate or used for single occupation. Hereditaments can be occupied or vacant. This has no impact on rateable value, though it can affect the level of rates levied on a property.

  • Non-bulk class

    The 400,000 properties that are not in the bulk classes are known as non-bulks. Non-bulk properties generally do not have floorspace and other descriptive statistics available. Examples of non-bulk properties include pubs, car parks, and schools. They are often assessed using criteria other than floorspace.

  • Offices

    These include purpose-built office buildings and offices associated with light industrial activities. Larger banks and post offices containing substantial office space may be in this class rather than in the retail class. The office class is further disaggregated into two classes called commercial offices and non-commercial, or other, offices. The commercial offices group comprises mainly of purpose-built office buildings and various types of non-domestic buildings converted to offices. The commercial office category also includes central government offices but not local government offices. The other office class comprises mainly local government offices, some surgeries, and police stations.

  • Other bulk premises

    This category includes a variety of premises rated using the RSA that do not fall into one of the above four bulk classes. They include garden centres, halls and social clubs. This group of properties is made up of those in the bulk class that the Valuation Office Agency defines as 'miscellaneous', but with some modifications.

  • Rateable value

    The rateable value of property is the value at which a property might be expected to be let for one year. It is based on a range of factors including use, location and age, but a major determinant of rental value is the size (total floorspace) of the property.

  • Retail core

    A small retail centre smaller within an ATCA, modelled using the same methodology as ATCAs, but using only retail floorspace and employees data.

  • Retail premises

    This class includes shops and other premises that provide goods and services to the public. They include local post offices, restaurants, cafes, newsagents, supermarkets, laundrettes and takeaways. Two significant omissions in this group are public houses, which are classed as non-bulk, and garden centres which are usually classed as ‘other bulk premises’.

  • Revaluation

    The law requires that rateable values of non-domestic properties be revalued every five years. The Valuation Office Agency sets rateable values in line with an assessment of the commercial and industrial rental market. Each revaluation has a specified valuation date, known as the Antecedent Valuation Date. Changes in value after that date, which are solely due to economic factors, are not reflected in rateable values.The latest revaluation came into effect on 1 April 2005. The Antecedent Valuation Date for this revaluation was 1 April 2003, with properties taken to be in their physical state as of 1 April 2005.

  • Warehouses

    These range from small storage units and depots to very large distribution warehouses. Car showrooms are mostly classified as warehouses.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Floorspace enquiries

Email: floorspace@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7944 4400

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