Kirkcaldy residents battle it out over council tax

Sandford Gate in Kirkcaldy
Sandford Gate in Kirkcaldy

Residents at a sheltered housing complex in Kirkcaldy have battled it out with assessors in a bid to reduce their council tax band.

The Valuations Appeal Committee heard evidence from Sandford Gate residents and the Fife assessor team during a heated meeting in Cupar last Thursday.

Assessors defended the decision to set Band D/E council tax on one and two-bed flats at Sandford Gate retirement complex because they were the most expensive flats in Kirkcaldy when built in 2002.

“There were no direct comparators to Sandford Gate when it came on the market,” said Mr Graham Greig. “Where would it have sat within the hierarchy of Kirkcaldy?”

“It is clear it was selling in excess of anything else, including the luxury of Braehead House; something new to the market was outselling the best-of-the-best in the market at the time.”

It had to be assumed Sandford Gate comfortably exceeded the £45,000 threshold set in 1991, he argued.

Residents maintain, however, that Sandford Gate’s prices were set artificially high by developer MacCarthy and Stone to cash in on “pent-up demand” from retired mortgage-free buyers.

The new prices also included a new build premium of at least 10 percent.

Sandford Gate’s ‘rightful place’ in the market had been evidenced by the subsequent resale market.

The committee heard prices at Sandford Gate rose 39 per cent between 2003 to 2007, from £73k to £102k.However, the Kyles saw an increase of over 100 per cent in that same period, as did Braehead House, where prices rose from £62k to £127k. Unlike other flats following the 2008 financial crash, Sandford Gate stalled. For example, a flat selling for £94,500 in 2003 resold in 2012 for £95,000. Residents said one flat at Abbots Mill, which is on a lower band than Sandford Gate, 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.

The Valuations Appeal Committee is expected to make its decision known, in writing, at a later date.