Westfield's Peter Miller strongly criticised the Government's empty rates legislation at a Labour Party Conference fringe event last night and said it unfairly penalised developers.

The development, design and construction director at the Australian property company said the legislation penalised developers because it would discourage development, particularly in marginal areas and risky regeneration schemes where there could be a high risk of vacancy upon completion.

He said the impact of the legislation would have a huge impact on city centre and urban regeneration.

'Regional cities will be finding it very difficult to promote development and there are schemes being shelved and postponed all around the country because they were underpinned by capital values...There is a real danger that all the good work from this past 11-15 years will not continue with the same momentum,' said Miller.

Secretary of State Hazel Blears, who also spoke at the event hosted by the Urban Hub on issues facing cities, said the legislation was being reviewed.

She said: 'Circumstances do change and we have seen things that the economic outlook is different. When this legislation was brought in there were buildings that were being deliberately left empty as a home for foreign income. We are keeping this legislation under review.'

Miller also said that cumbersome planning and government funding structures would hurt regeneration in regional cities.