Regeneration chiefs are protesting against a policy that levies tax on owners of empty commercial buildings. Since April this year, owners have had to pay full business rates on them.

Previously shops and offices received 50% relief, while industrial units got full relief. Regeneration officials say councils and landlords are knocking down buildings instead of putting in the work necessary to regenerate a site, because the tax is too costly.

John Nicholls, chairman of the urban regeneration companies executives group, said: 'There is a lot of pre-emptive demolition going on. Cities are beginning to look like broken teeth.'

Daily Telegraph, The Guardian