The Valuation Tribunal for England has determined that a property in Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells, which forms part of a redevelopment site should have its Rateable Value reduced to £0 because there was exposed brown asbestos at the property.

The property at 43 Mount Pleasant Road had been built in the 1960’s and used as a shop until about 2008. It now formed part of a site known as the “Cinema redevelopment site”. Other properties in the redevelopment site were hoarded off , but the appeal property remained outside the hoardings. At some time after 2008 the property had been vandalised and, as a result, brown asbestos had been disturbed and was now exposed.

The ratepayer presented two alternative arguments: firstly, that the exposed asbestos meant that the appeal property was incapable of beneficial occupation, and secondly that, if the property was capable of beneficial occupation, its locality was one of a redevelopment site and had no value.

The Valuation Officer contended that the works required to the property were works of repair; that the cost of those repairs was reasonable in relation to the value of the property and that the property therefore had to be valued in an assumed “reasonable state of repair”.

The Tribunal decided that the works to remove exposed brown asbestos went beyond the definition of works of repair and that the property was incapable of beneficial occupation. Having made this finding, the Tribunal followed the decision of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in SJ & J Monk v Newbigin (VO) (2014), and determined that the assessment should be reduced to nil from the date the Rating List came into force.