In 2015, our client, Heronslea Group, purchased a 1980s office block for residential redevelopment. The property was Caledonian House, 39-61 St Albans Road, Watford, Hertfordshire. They obtained confirmation that a change of use to residential, providing 54 flats, was within permitted development rights and stripped the premises in readiness for conversion. At the same time they sought an improved consent for demolition of the existing building and replacement with new-build residential units.
The development was delayed while the application for the improved consent went to appeal and permission was granted in April 2017.
Our client contacted the Valuation Officer to advise that the premises were incapable of occupation from October 2015, during redevelopment. Following abortive discussions with the Valuation Officer we were instructed to enter appeals.
The Valuation Officer argued that the premises were not subject to redevelopment until the later consent was activated by further works commencing in July 2017, and that the rating legislation therefore required that the original strip out works should be ignored and that the premises should be valued between October 2015 and July 2017 as though capable of occupation and in good repair.
The matter came before the Valuation Tribunal for a hearing in June 2018 and we put forward a detailed case with evidence of our client’s programme, from acquisition in August 2015 through to the final demolition of the building, calling our client to give evidence in person.
Our arguments, supported by careful preparation and strong evidence of the facts, were accepted by the Tribunal and the matter was determined wholly in our client’s favour, resulting in refunds of over £300,000.
“It was a pleasure to work with Aitchison Raffety and I found them extremely knowledgeable and professional at all times. This culminated at the tribunal when their presentation and response under questioning was extremely slick. They prepared me well for my own evidence and cross examination. Overall, a sterling job.”
James Craig, Director, Heronslea Group