Compensation - Dwellinghouse - Depreciation in value due to public works - New by-pass - Physical factors of noise and light - Land Compensation Act 1973 Sections 1 and 6

Dobbie v Fife Council
14 January 1998

Following the construction of a by-pass which diverted traffic from the main street of the small village of Hillend, the claimants sought compensation for the depreciation in value of their house caused by various physical factors including noise, light, vibration, fumes, and dirt. The construction of the by-pass had converted Main Street from a through route carrying heavy traffic to a cul-de-sac with little traffic movement. The claimants subjects were situated in a separate cul-de-sac running off Main Street. Parties were agreed that there was substantial benefit to the value of property on Main Street. However the by-pass ran along the back of the claimants garden. They had less benefit from the removal of the through route.

Although the claimants referred to assessment under section 1 by reference to the "turned-off/turned-on" formula, the evidence led on their behalf sought to demonstrate that there had been a global drop in value by comparing the market value of the subjects with the by-pass and the value without the by-pass. Thereafter they sought to apportion this global figure between the physical factors and the non-compensatable factors. For the respondents it was argued that as there had been no overall depreciation it was unnecessary to consider the proper detailed approach.

The main physical factor was noise. The maximum noise levels reaching the property from traffic on the by-pass did not exceed those previously experienced from the Main Street traffic. However the focus of impact of noise had changed from the front parts of the house to the back where the living room and amenity garden ground was situated.

Held (1) that the increase in noise at the parts of the house used for recreational purposes would be reflected by some diminution in value which could properly be assessed at a sum not exceeding £1,000 for the purposes of section 1; (2) that in assessing any increase in value for the purposes of section 6 it was necessary to look at all factors bearing on any change in value, due regard being had to the need to avoid double counting by excluding factors already assessed for the purposes of section 1; (3) that the manifest improvement in the quality of life in Hillend following removal of the heavy intrusive flow of through traffic would plainly have led to a change in value at the valuation date which would exceed the sum of £1,000; and (4) without a need to put any figure on the set off under section 6 it was plain that no compensation was due.

Observed that while the approach taken by the claimants of apportioning a "global" figure of depreciation might be justified in certain circumstances it ought, primarily, to be an exercise carried out by the valuer whose expertise was being relied upon to produce the global figure itself.

See full decision:  LTS/COMP/1996/8