LANDS TRIBUNAL AND COMPENSATION ACT (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1964
IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL AGAINST VALUATION FOR RATING PURPOSES
EDWARD McBRIEN - APPELLANT
THE COMMISSIONER OF VALUATION FOR NORTHERN IRELAND- RESPONDENT
This was an appeal against the valuation for rating purposes of £21 on a dwelling-house and yard No 20 (VO No 76) Hillsborough Drive, Belfast 6.
The hereditament is a terrace house built in 1929 with an interior floor area of about 875 square feet. The accommodation is entrance hall, living room, kitchenette-sitting room, scullery, three bedrooms (one very small), combined bathroom and WC. There is a small garden at the front of the house and at the rere is an enclosed yard with a small coal store and a wood and felt shed. There is a brick wall 7-8 feet high at the back of the yard and a door in this opens into a 9 feet wide concreted passage. Across this passage is the boundary wall - 11 feet high - of premises at present occupied by Associated Belfast Chemicals and known as 32A Hillsborough Drive. The subject premises are in a terrace of which seven houses, including the subject premises, have a similar external frontal appearance and appear to be of similar size and design and were stated to have been built in 1929.
The house immediately adjoining the subject premises, No 22 Hillsborough Drive, has had its enclosed yard covered and turned into a garage.
The appellant, who appeared in person, complained that the Associated Belfast Chemical Company in the course of their business generate noise and cause dirt and grit to be blown over adjoining property, and also produce unpleasant smells which adversely affect the enjoyment of the subject premises. He further complained that the 11 feet high wall bounding the Associated Belfast Chemical Company's premises darkened the rere of the subject premises and that dust and dirt collected upon the covered roof over the yard of No 22 Hillsborough Drive which then blew into the yard of the subject premises causing considerable annoyance to the occupiers of the subject premises. Mr McBrien also referred to the history of the commercial premises 32A Hillsborough Drive. These were occupied by a Mr Elliott as a builder's yard and workshop prior to 1939, and later by a Mr M Deane for the same purpose. Planning permission was granted to Mr Deane in 1949 for the erection of a building on these premises and for the use of this building as a builder's store and joiner's workshop. About 1960 the premises 32A Hillsborough Drive were acquired by Messrs Morton Brothers, builder's merchants, who manufactured mortar there in addition to garaging and servicing vehicles in the yard. Improvements and adaptations to existing buildings there were made by Messrs Morton, but apparently this work was carried out without planning permission. There appears to have been considerable local objection to the use of the yard for manufacture and vehicle maintenance and after the Belfast Corporation had refused planning permission for such use, an appeal was made by Messrs Morton to the Minister of Health and Local Government who considered the representations of all parties and in February 1963 upheld the decision of the Corporation. The present occupiers, Associated Belfast Chemicals, took possession about 1965 and made alterations to the premises. The appellant stated that he had lodged a complaint about the Company's use of 32A Hillsborough Drive with the Belfast Corporation in February 1965 but no action was taken. It was not contended that either the present user or any alterations to the premises were without planning approval. The appellant considered that in general terms, the rental value of the subject premises had been seriously affected by the matters of which he complained and that accordingly the net annual value should be reduced from £21 to £12.
For the respondent, Mr David McCausland AAI, an officer of the valuation division of the Ministry of Finance, stated that the subject premises had been valued at £12 prior to the first General Revaluation when this had been increased to £20. At the second General Revaluation in 1956 the valuation was increased to £21. All the seven similar houses Nos 16/28 are valued at the same figure - £21. Only one appeal had been made in respect of any of these prior to the present appeal. That was in respect of the subject premises in 1956 and the notice of appeal was signed with the appellant's name, but the appellant contended that this was not his signature, that he had not made this appeal which did not succeed, and he said that the present was the first appeal he had made in respect of the subject premises.
Mr McCausland gave evidence that in 1939 the subject premises were let at £46 per annum inclusive of rates, and that two similar houses had been let - No 22 Hillsborough Drive at £46 per annum inclusive of rates in 1939; and No 26 Hillsborough Drive at £48 per annum inclusive of rates in 1934. In assessing the valuation of the subject premises and the adjoining similar houses at the second General Revaluation, the rental value had been taken as £44 per annum inclusive of rates, and with deductions for rates, and repairs and maintenance on the London Scale, this had given a valuation of £21. With regard to the defects complained of, Mr McCausland gave evidence of having visited the area of the subject premises, including the premises occupied by Associated Belfast Chemicals, on sixteen occasions during November at different hours of the day. On two occasions he entered the subject premises. He stated that at no time did he notice any dirt or grit coming from the Chemical Company. A diesel engined, electrically generated fork lift is used by this Company for moving large drums, but the witness could not hear any noise from this when he was inside the subject premises. He said that his inspection of the Chemical Company's premises revealed that these were used for a distributive business. Some mixing of chemicals was carried out, but this was all done inside the buildings. Drums of chemicals are brought to the premises and dispatched from there. The surface of the yard is earth covered with granite chippings and there was not evidence of dust from this or from the chemicals. The noise of the fork lift truck was not, in his opinion, as troublesome as was the noise of the mortar mixers when Messrs Morton occupied the premises, or the noise of a circular saw when Mr Deane operated the builder's yard and joiner's shop.
With regard to the other two complaints, he did not consider that the 11 feet high wall was sufficiently close to affect the light to any of the windows in the subject premises and would indeed tend to deaden any noise. The existence of a garage in the covered yard of No 22 Hillsborough Drive adjoining, was also in his opinion not a depressing factor on the rental value of the subject premises.
He gave evidence that the Chemical Company was at present - since September 1966 - engaged in building work on their premises, and that inevitably during the course of this work there might be some temporary minor inconvenience through noise and dust, but that this would cease when the work was completed.
DECISION The Tribunal has visited the subject premises and has also inspected on several occasions the premises occupied by Associated Belfast Chemicals. The two lesser complaints of the appellant - the existence of an 11 feet high wall bounding the Chemical Company's premises and the flat roof over the yard of the adjoining house - are not such as to have any effect on the rental value of the subject premises. Indeed the 11 feet high concrete block wall, the top of which can scarcely be seen above the back yard wall of the subject premises from the back sitting room is neat and tidy and must be a great improvement on the former 6 feet high corrugated iron boundary fence. Not only does it not cause any measurable diminution of light, but it must also, as Mr McCausland stated in evidence, help to deaden any noise.
The appellant's main complaint relates to noise, dust, grit, and smell from the Chemical Company's yard. The Tribunal's inspections confirmed Mr McCausland's evidence that these are at present used mainly for a non-manufacturing distributive business. Steel barrels containing chemicals are delivered to these premises and are stored there until dispatched to purchasers. The barrels are stacked by means of a small diesel engined fork-lift truck, which did not, on any visit, make any excessive noise. There are two small machines used for mixing certain chemicals, but these are situated inside the main building and no noticeable noise or smell came from either. No mixing is done in the open yard. One of the main buildings however has recently been extended with a second storey built at the front and no doubt there has been a certain amount of noise and dirt, inseparable from most ordinary building operations, while this work was proceeding. It has now been completed and clearing up operations are in progress. The general appearance of the yard is neat and tidy and in no way out of keeping with the general appearance of the neighbourhood. Indeed it is probable that it is less unattractive in an area such as this, than was the former builder's yard at the time when open market rental values were established.
The appellant has failed to establish that the rental value has been reduced below the amount advanced on behalf of the respondent and consequently this appeal must fail. The Tribunal therefore dismisses this appeal and orders the appellant to pay the respondent the measured sum of three guineas, his costs of the appeal.
F MALCOLM McKIBBIN
15th December 1966 LANDS TRIBUNAL FOR NORTHERN IRELAND
Appearances:- Appellant: In person. Respondent: Mr R D Carswell instructed by the Chief Crown Solicitor.