One of the UK’s largest developers of small business units has cut its development programme by more than 90% in response to the government’s decision to remove tax relief on empty business properties.

Tom Stokes, managing director of Evans Easyspace, said that last year’s £30m programme across 10 sites had been cut to just one small development because of the decision.

He said: “We can safely say our slowdown is entirely due to the empty rates decision.”

The news emerged in the week developer Segro said the tax changes would cut its profit by £2m in the half year and by about £6m in total.

Last year Evans Easyspace, which owns 60 business parks for SMEs, had a development programme of almost 400,000ft2. This year it is completing a single 14,000ft2 scheme.

The company has already announced that it is pulling out of two developments in Speke, Merseyside, and Cannock, Staffordshire.

John Nicholls, chair of the leaders group of the government’s 19 urban regeneration companies and one of the government’s top regeneration advisers said cities were beginning to look like “broken teeth” because properties were being demolished to beat the tax.