Dunlop Heywood has been successful in an important Tribunal appeal on behalf of Go Karting for Fun Ltd which saw its rateable value (RV) reduce by 39.4%, from £167,000 to £101,250.
Director Stuart Hicks led the appeal at the Valuation Tribunal on behalf of the client, with the new RV applying as from September 18, 2015.
Hicks’ argument for a reduced RV hinged on whether the appeal property should be valued in accordance with its mode and category of occupation which has implications for other leisure facilities that are housed in converted industrial properties in England.
The appeal property – a factory and premises on the outskirts of Nottingham – included an unheated warehouse, a two-storey office block and a mezzanine floor. Whilst the property had originally been subject to industrial use, it had been occupied as a go karting track since 2015.
As part of the evidence, Dunlop Heywood was able to prove the appeal property should be valued as a go karting track in line with its mode and category of occupation and not in line with industrial units in the locality.
Material to the argument was the planning consent that had been changed from B2 (industrial) to Sui Generis (unique use). The property was leased with effect from 18 September 2015, as a go karting track, and the lease specified that the permitted use of the property was as a go karting track with ancillary leisure facilities.
The property was physically adapted for its use, with all the plant and machinery being removed, the office areas converted to a reception area/briefing room, changing rooms, customer toilets and a refreshment area/small bar. The mezzanine floor was converted to a viewing area.
Hicks went on to provide a substantial amount of case law to support his view that the appeal property should be valued in line with its mode and category of occupation and pointed out that the appeal property was in use at the material day as a go karting track, had undergone conversion to facilitate such use in accordance with the “rebus sic stantibus” * principle.
He also referred to a further six propositions for weighting evidence as outlined in other key Lands Tribunal decisions and provided a schedule of seven properties situated in Bristol, Liverpool, Warrington, Sheffield and Leeds that had been occupied by Teamsport; confirming that none of these properties had been purpose built; all had been converted from other uses.
The VOA, which opposed the appeal, also presented extracts from legislation, and a proposed revised valuation of RV £165,000 for the appeal property.
In its decision summary the Panel noted that alterations had taken place to the appeal property, following the granting of planning permission to facilitate the change of the property’s use from B2 to Sui Generis.
Whilst the VOA had considered that the alterations to the appeal property to create the go karting track and its ancillary accommodation had been minor, the Panel agreed with Mr Hicks that the changes, taken as a whole, went beyond what could be considered minor.
“We are obviously delighted with the result,” added Hicks. “We knew we had a strong argument with existing case law to refer to. This case will now help to provide further evidence for future appeals brought by similar leisure businesses which find themselves facing unfair rateable values that simply don’t reflect their occupation.”
*rebus sic stantibus – “things standing thus”, or more wordily, “on the basis of matters remaining in the same state as they are at present”.