The Phoenix Cultural Centre and Fiery Bird live music venue in Goldsworth Road, Woking, has won a signficant victory on reducing its business rates.

In July last year, Phoenix, a community interest company, signed a three-year lease with site developers EcoWorld London only to learn on the eve of its opening in October that it was liable for a £61,000 monthly payment of business rates, due to Woking Borough Council.

Now Phoenix has reduced its annual rates bill to just £7,000.

“It has been a difficult few months for us all,” said Elaine McGinty, chief executive and founder of Phoenix Cultural Centre and Fiery Bird.

“Now we have received good news from the central government Valuation Office Agency for business rates. Based on the case and evidence we submitted, they have agreed to remove the unused floors of our building from business rates and reclassify our area as a community centre backdated to July 2023. 

“This reduces our rates bill from £432,000 per annum to £28,000 per annum. We can then apply for the 75 per cent retail/hospitality and leisure relief we are entitled to from central government, bringing our annual rates bill down to £7,000. This is a big win for us.

“We lost funding and time, but it is nice to have good news to share. It also means we can focus for the next three years and do what we set out to do when we started this 13 years ago, making an accessible community space for arts, culture and live music for everyone to enjoy which benefits our community and local economy.

“Please join in with what is going on, or if you have an idea speak to us about it, volunteer or get involved – we can only do this if people support it.”