DESCRIPTIVE RUBRIC

Compensation – Depreciation in value due to public works –Dwellinghouses – Relief Road – Evidence of market values, noise levels and settlements of claims – Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973 Section 1

Compensation – Public works – Stretch of relief road constructed earlier at expense of private housing developer in order to provide access to housing development – whether compensatable public works – Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973, Sections 1, 4, 9, 13, 17 and 80 – Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, Section 151(1)

Robertson & Others v Perth & Kinross District Council
9 December 2004
LTS/COMP/2003/2,3,4,5

A relief road diverted traffic passing through a small town, Coupar Angus, to a new by-pass some 70 metres to the south. Section 1 of the Act of 1973 provides a right to compensation where the value of an interest in land is depreciated by physical factors caused by the use of public works. A number of dwellinghouses admittedly qualified for compensation. Some claims had been settled. Four claims proceeded to a hearing. Three of the houses, though affected by the relief road to their rear, had benefited from the reduction of traffic to the front.

For the claimants, evidence was given by their representative, a surveyor experienced in such claims. He founded heavily on certain market transactions, and also referred to analyses of levels of compensation elsewhere compared under reference to increases in noise levels. For the respondents, evidence was given by a senior surveyor, an engineer who had measured certain noise levels, a noise consultant and a District Valuer, who gave independent expert evidence on the level of depreciation in values.

A separate issue arose out of the fact that one section of the relief road had been constructed earlier at the expense of a private housing developer, to provide access to that development. Parties disagreed as to whether, in relation to houses adjoining that section of road, there were two separate claims, i.e. both when the access road started to be used and later, when the relief road as a whole, opened, with consequences in relation to expenses and interest (although not to the overall value of the claims).

Held, (1), broadly accepting the respondents’ valuations, compensation should be fixed at figures ranging from £1,300 to £2,500. The evidence was not easy to interpret, there being a wide variety of sizes, ages and physical siting of houses in the town. Generally, the Tribunal considered that the respondents’ valuation evidence involved a broader look at the available evidence. The claimants’ surveyor relied heavily on one particular comparison arising out of sales of two houses, one affected by the works and the other not. In general, market evidence was indeed to be preferred, as prime evidence, over settlement evidence. However, the exercise in valuing these claims was not an assessment of market values, rather of the degree of effect on market values of the works. ‘No-scheme world’ values, used to compare claims, were only broad estimates for that limited purpose and were not critical to the exercise. Widespread acceptance of compensation payments might represent additional evidence to be considered and not rejected out of hand. Overwhelming reliance on one sale as showing the effect of the works depended not only on the sale value (there being possibly other reasons for one depressed value) but also on the estimated ‘no-scheme world’ value. The respondents’ opinion evidence as to ‘no-scheme’ values as bearing on the particular comparison relied on by the claimants were to be preferred. Further, on the evidence, the respondents’ experts’ estimates of pre- and post-scheme noise levels were accepted. Applying these to the claimants’ analysis of settlements elsewhere on the basis of noise levels would bring out results much closer to the respondents’ figures, although the validity of this exercise was doubtful. Analysis of the settlements, although not very useful for the purposes of direct comparisons between subjects, tended to support the respondents’ range of percentage levels of depreciation.

(2) On a consideration of Section 1(3) of the Act of 1973 in context, the stretch of road servicing the private housing development, was ‘public works’, with the result that claims arose when it was opened as well as when the rest of the relief road opened.. Section 1(3) defined ‘public works’ as including, inter alia, ‘any road’, and the reference in the interpretation section to the definition of ‘road’ in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 clearly led to that result, there being a public right of passage to the housing development. The respondents’ argument that Section 1(3) was not a definition section and that ‘public works’ must mean works publicly provided at public expense could not be accepted. While an access road to a development might not often give rise to depreciation in value (and here did so only because Section 4(2) allowed consideration of reasonably expected intensification of use) there should not be a distinction between an access road leading to a public development and one leading to a private development. Parliament appeared to have taken the view that the element of public authorisation and then the subsequent building and opening of any road open to the public was sufficient.

Authorities referred to:-

Horton & Griffin v Worcester County Council unreported, Lands Tribunal, LCA/64&66/2001
Hallows v Welsh Office (1995) 70 P & CR 117
Lewars v Greater London Council (1982) 259 E.G. 500


See full decision:  LTS/COMP/2003/2, 3, 4, 5