Has Your Home Been Devalued by Public Infrastructure Works?

To state that location is the only important factor when it comes to valuing a home is a cliché and something of a generalisation. However, as an Upper Tribunal (UT) ruling showed, if public infrastructure works render the location of your property less desirable you may well be entitled to compensation.

The case concerned a detached property the back garden of which formerly looked out over an area of open land that had at one time been used as allotments. That was before a 40-metre spur road was constructed to give access to a development of 280 new homes.

In seeking compensation from his local authority under the Land Compensation Act 1973, the property's joint owner contended that its value had been significantly depleted by intrusive LED street lighting on the new road, together with the noise and fumes of construction traffic making its way to the development site.

The owner said that the street lighting had affected growth of plants in his garden and meant that he and his wife could no longer sleep with their curtains and windows open. The noise of construction traffic began as early as 5.45am and exhaust fumes blew into their garden when there was an easterly wind. The spur road was raised on an elevated embankment and the nearest street lighting was 22 metres away from the property's rear elevation.

Ruling on the case, the UT noted that the council was only required to pay compensation for loss of value arising from certain physical factors caused by use of the road. The owner could not be compensated under the Act for other aspects of the works that might affect the value of his home, including harm to its views or loss of amenity or convenience.

Dimmable streetlights had since been installed and they were switched off between 11.30pm and 6.00am. An acoustic fence had also been put in place. The owner had, however, lodged his claim before those mitigation steps were taken. The UT was satisfied that, at the relevant valuation date, a hypothetical purchaser of the property would have sought and achieved a discount of 2.5 per cent. On that basis, the owner was awarded £10,000 in compensation.