MSP brands committee decision ‘a cop-out’

Sandford Gate in Kirkcaldy Pic: FPA
Sandford Gate in Kirkcaldy Pic: FPA
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A long-standing battle to reduce council tax bands at a Kirkcaldy complex for retired residents has been knocked back yet again.

The Valuations Appeal Committee refused to lower the bill at Sandford Gate retirement complex for one pensioner who is the fifth resident to raise an appeal.

That is a cop-out because they have revalued properties in the past which I helped people fight for

David Torrance MSP

Assessors defended band D/E council tax bands on one and two-bed flats at Sandford Gate because, when built in 2002, it was “clear it was selling in excess of anything else, including the luxury of Braehead House”.

But residents argued prices were set artificially high by builders McCarthy and Stone to meet “pent-up demand” from retired mortgage-free buyers and included a new build premium.

While a Sandford Gate flat selling for £94,500 in 2003 resold in 2012 for £95,000, flats at Abbots Mill (which is on a lower band) sold for £66,500 in 2002 and resold for £145,000 in 2007.

“The reality is a two-bed at Sandford Gate has never achieved that value of sale because it was never as valuable as Abbots Mill,” said the appellant.

However, the committee concluded the correct methodology was used to determine Sandford Gate’s banding at 1991 prices and subsequent market anomalies could only be addressed through a re-valuation of all properties, which was a political decision.

David Torrance MSP said: “That is a cop-out because they have revalued properties in the past which I helped people fight for.

“The evidence provided on the day was very good and well prepared so I’m very disappointed with the outcome.

“I just feel that the appeals committee is doing this to save face - because Sandford Gate is not an individual house, it would be required to change the band for not just one property, but 58 properties.”