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Sandford Gate in Kirkcaldy. Pic: FPA
Sandford Gate in Kirkcaldy. Pic: FPA
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Residents fight for a fifth time to reband retirement flats

When does a £100,000 two- bedroom retirement flat in Kirkcaldy cost as much as a luxury £150,000 two-bedroom flat along the road?

Answer: When residents in Sandford Gate and Braehead House pay their monthly band E council tax bill.

Today (Thursday) Sandford Gate residents will attempt to finally persuade a Valuation Appeal Committee that their council tax is ridiculously high.

MSP David Torrance, who is backing the campaign said: “Their real problem is that the Sandford Gate flats were unfairly overvalued and Fife Council compared them to flats in Kirkcaldy of a different type and with different facilities, for example, Braehead House.

“I would really urge the Council to look at this because the residents are in the wrong band.”

Since the 61 retirement flats were built at Halley’s Court in 2002 there have been at least five appeals.

The flats. built by McCarthy and Stone, were originally marketed at around £100,000 and because of their rarity were snapped up by elderly mortgage-free buyers.

A resident said: “It was a captive audience and the developers knew exactly what they were doing.”

The value of Sandford Gate properties subsequently flatlined, while those at Braehead House, which boasts underground parking and an indoor swimming pool and gym continued to rise.

Residents believe council tax assessors had been too easily convinced by Sandford Gate’s “glossy brochures” and had also failed to take into account the fact that the price of the flats, when new, incorporated a ‘new build premium’.

As a result their value has depreciated in relative terms, much as a brand new car would when leaving the show roomforecourt.

In rejecting a previous appeal, the committee said it could find no evidence a new build premium had been built into the sale price at Sandford Gate

However, a resident told The Press in advance of today’s meeting: “We contacted McCarthy and Stone and they’ve told us, in writing, that there was indeed a 10 per cent premium.”

How is council tax worked out?

All residential properties are given a council tax valuation band by the local assessor and the band is based on the value of your home on April 1, 1991.

Therefore, in the case of new builds, the assessor finds comparable existing properties and uses them as a retrospective guide.

At Sandford Gate all one-bedroom flats are D band (£45,000 - £58,000 at 1991 prices) and two bedroom flats are E band (£58 - £80,000).