I AM writing this on the morning following the 2013 Budget and it seems the Chancellor has done very little to help businesses especially no further relief in Business Rates and the payment of rates on empty properties.

The winners maybe are the first time buyers with the new “help to buy” scheme offering households who can put down a 5% deposit a 20% loan to help buy the property, this would then be repaid on the sale of the property. This only currently applies only to new houses and will, hopefully stimulate the construction industry.

Further to this is a mortgage guarantee scheme, designed together with some of the major mortgage providers, will help lenders offer loans to households without a deposit. This may well encourage lending of some £130 billion and help overcome the barrier of large deposer required for first time buyers.

We are involved in a number of major land transactions at present and the appetite to build new houses is growing in the good locations where land can be acquired at a fair price. There is still resistance in the market to build apartments , but equally this market is starting to improve again in good sustainable locations and close to town centres, these schemes will only be viable if the pricing structure is right.

This strengthening market is echoed in the Bank of England’s monthly summary of business conditions, and as a contributor to this, we are seeing good signs in an increasingly busy house selling market place. The rental market also is doing well especially on well located family housing again in sustainable areas.

This activity is reflected in falls in mortgage rates and an improvement in mortgage availability, as well the effects of specific incentive schemes for home ownership. The easing in credit conditions was feeding through to higher loan to value mortgages more widely than before, though conditions for first-time buyers remained difficult.

Some contacts saw that demand and supply in the housing market had become more balanced in recent months. Demand in the private rental market had remained strong; with the Governments proposed increase to funding of “build-to-rent” scheme this will further improve the sector.

So overall, in my opinion, this has been a lukewarm budget, nothing to really help the commercial property market or struggling small businesses, the odd 1% drop in Corporation Tax and 1 penny of a pint will hardly help.

One little snippet I have uncovered may well help our ailing town centre and as I have said in the past allow the conversion of upper floor vacant accommodation into residential dwellings allowing investor to use there self-invested personal pension (SIPPS) the ability to invest in residential, which up to now has been only for commercial property investment. This may encourage property owners and developers to look at the conversion of redundant space in our town centre.

We are currently advising a number of owners as to potential of conversion of buildings, which with the relaxed planning rules of change of use allowed from offices to residential, is starting to become an area of real interest and can pump life back into Stourbridge and other town centres like Kidderminster and Stourport.

I repeat myself without apology from my last month's editorial as I do seriously believe this an issue we must all seize and start to look at solutions and not continually moan at the state of our town.

Is it time also to consider pedestrianisation of the High Street – remove the cars leaving servicing only for the shops and business and create a friendlier and calmer environment to encourage more people to use the town when they come to visit the new facilities we are now seeing come together with Stourbridge’s’ excellent bus and train services to Birmingham and the wider West Midlands and Worcestershire.