With over 50 years of experience of acting on behalf of property owners who have been affected by Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) and their associated financial compensation claims, FG Burnett has been involved in well over 100 compensation claims in connection with the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie/Tipperty (AWPR/B-T) Road Project.
Since 2013, when the CPO took effect, our main focus has been on assessing, negotiating and agreeing compensation claims where either all or part of an affected property had been compulsorily acquired under the Compensation Code.
However, more recently we been involved with over 50 property owners whose property now lies adjacent or close to the dual carriageway but where no land was compulsorily acquired from them.
The Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973 provides, albeit limited, a right for property owners to claim compensation for the devaluation of their property due to the operation of a public work. Such provisions are contained within Part 1 of the 1973 Act and are known as Part 1 Claims.
In terms of the legislation, a Part 1 claim cannot be lodged until at least a year after the first day on which the public work became operational. Whilst a right to claim compensation now exists, it is restricted in that compensation can only be claimed for the reduction in the open market value of an affected property due to one or more of the seven physical factors as stated in the 1973 Act, namely: - noise, vibration, fumes, smoke, smell, artificial light and the discharge on to the land in respect of the claim of any solid or liquid substance. The legislation purposefully restricts the compensation to reflect the decrease in the general amenity of property but does not cover any reduction in value due to loss of privacy or loss of view. Equally, the legislation provides that any benefits of the public work which may increase the value of the affected property also require to be taken into account in the assessment of the compensation.
In addition, the date of assessing the compensation due is one year after the public work becomes operational and whilst there may be an entitlement to compensation, the onus rests with the affected property owner to lodge a formal claim as set out in the 1973 Act that require to be submitted to the appropriate Authority that undertook the public work. Conversely, there is no statutory obligation on that Authority to inform the affected property owners that they may have a claim.
With regard to the AWPR/B-T Road Project, the Authority was Transport Scotland and following the submission of formal claims on behalf of clients, negotiations then took place with representatives of the Valuation Office Agency who advise Transport Scotland on an independent and impartial basis. These negotiations were quite prolonged and intense and as far as the AWPR/B-T Road Project is concerned, the two main physical factors that have adversely affected the value of properties are noise and artificial light – both from lighting at the major junctions but in many cases more so from the headlights of the vehicles using the dual carriageway. It has to be borne in mind that prior to the AWPR/B-T, many of the affected properties were situated in quiet and private rural locations.
The assessment of each claim has to be judged on its own merits taking into account the open market value of the property, the distance the property lies from the dual carriageway, the topography of the adjacent land and whether the dual carriageway is on an embankment or a cutting at the location of the affected property – as well as consideration being given to any benefits in value that the property may have obtained by virtue of the road scheme.
The upshot is that the majority of these claims have now been settled at satisfactory amounts. It can no doubt be appreciated that the assessment of such claims is complex and therefore it is not unreasonable for affected property owners to seek appropriate professional advice from surveying firms, such as FG Burnett, who have the relevant knowledge, experience and expertise in dealing with such claims. The fee charged by the surveyor in the assessment and negotiation of Part 1 claims is payable by the Authority over and above the agreed compensation sum- so that the client is not out of pocket.
Keith Petrie FRICS, who dealt with all of the above claims, is a Consultant with FG Burnett and has now almost 47 years of experience of dealing with CPOs and compensation claim cases. He can be contacted at: Keith.Petrie@fgburnett.co.uk