Valuing commercial property is an inexact science and expert opinions can diverge dramatically. That was certainly so in one case in which the owner of a bulk liquid storage depot succeeded in establishing that it had for more than a decade been overvalued for rating purposes.
The coastline facility covered 260 acres as at the relevant valuation date in 2005 and was home to a disused oil refinery and 79 storage tanks. A local authority valuation officer assessed its rateable value at £1,458,000. Its owner, however, argued for a rateable value of just £750,000. The Valuation Tribunal for Wales ruled in 2015 that the correct figure was £1,442,000.
In challenging that ruling before the Upper Tribunal (UT), however, the owner argued that the facility had numerous disadvantages in 2005. The disused refinery was an unwanted presence and a continuing liability. The location and layout of the site were far from ideal and some of the storage tanks were unsuitable by reason of their age, size and design.
Due to overcapacity in the liquid storage industry, the market for such facilities was also said to have been unpromising at the time. The valuation officer pointed to advantages of the site, not least its accessibility to large ocean-going ships. After hearing expert evidence on both sides, however, the UT allowed the owner’s appeal. The site’s rateable value was reduced to £1,165,000, effective from 1 April 2005.