The Upper Tribunal has ruled that London Southend Airport should pay over £85,000 compensation to homeowners whose properties depreciated in value after a runway expansion increased noise in the area.
An extension to the runway was opened March 2012, adding 380m to its length. This was part of a planned expansion of the Airport which would allow bigger aircraft to land and boost passenger numbers from around 50,000 a year to a projected two million by 2020.
A total of 190 current and former homeowners in the area referred claims to the tribunal for compensation under Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973. Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 confers a right to compensation where the value of an interest in land is depreciated by physical factors caused by the use of public works.
Ten exemplar properties were identified from a number of locations around the Airport and chosen to be determined first.
The tribunal heard that the value of the lead properties on 8 March 2013 ranged from £150,000 to £280,000 and the quantum of the lead claims is put by the claimants at between £32,200 and £60,100. But the respondent, represented by Robert Walton QC of Hill Dickinson LLP, denied that the value of any of the lead properties had been diminished by relevant physical factors resulting from the use of the runway extension, valuing each of the claims at nil.
Represented by James Burton of Hugh James LLP, the claimants argued that each of their properties had been diminished in value as a result of aircraft noise caused by the runway extension and, in particular, by the much larger aircraft which are now able to use the Airport.
Speaking on behalf of the claimants, a chartered surveyor said that there was a "consistent reduction in the pattern of daily growth, and the number of transactions" (house sales) at or near the time the runway extension was open. He said: this "strongly suggested that the impact of the physical factors arising from the use of the runway extension had had a significant negative impact on the value and saleability of properties in the lead claim streets".
The defendant's case involved an expert witness with 35 years of experience who heads the Eastern Region National Development and Planning Department of Strutt & Parker. He concluded that the physical factors arising from the use of the runway extension did not have any demonstrable effect on the lead properties' value.
He conceded there was discernible noise from overflying aircraft but said this had been the case before the runway extension came into use. As such, any effect of noise on values was already accounted for in the price of the homes before and after the runway expansion.
But the tribunal said it was "satisfied from the evidence of fact, the expert noise evidence and our site inspection that the use of the runway extension has caused depreciation in the value of most of the lead properties due to noise".
The tribunal ordered payments to be made to the homeowners in values ranging from £4,000 to £17,000, totalling £86,500 in compensation to be paid by the Airport.
Expert evidence on the noise environment at the Airport was given on behalf of the claimants by Rupert Thornely-Taylor of Rupert Taylor Ltd, and on behalf of the respondent by David Charles of Bickerdike Allen Partners LLP. Expert valuation evidence was given on behalf of the claimants by Simon Deacon FRICS of Wheeldon and Deacon, Chartered Surveyors and on behalf of the respondent by Paul Fosh MRICS FAAV of Strutt & Parker.