It is well documented that the sport of shooting can be an expensive past-time and, in particular, when shoots are commercially organised. In a case recently decided in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) the value of shooting rights fell to be examined in detail. A Compulsory Purchase Order had been made in 2011 in Abergavenny for the purpose of acquiring land for a new livestock market. As is often the case, the location of the new market had been a matter of controversy for many years and the viability of numerous sites had been examined. It was clear that one of the drivers for relocating the market was the redevelopment of the existing site in the centre of Abergavenny. It was, undoubtedly, a familiar scenario.
However the new site was subject to shooting rights and they included the standing of 8 guns on two fields but on no more than ten occasions in any one year. The owner of those rights, Mr Hanbury-Tenison argued that unlocking the development potential of the town centre site meant that a potential purchaser would, in such circumstances, have to pay a premium price for the new location. The valuations claimed by the competing parties were significantly different; the Council suggested a figure of £1,000 but Mr Hanbury-Tenison suggested that they were worth, in reality more than £5,000,000. The law requires that when land is compulsorily purchased, the value is the same as if it were sold in the open market by a willing seller. In that context, a case in 2009 established the value should reflect whatever development potential the land may have.
At the hearing both parties argued their respective cases vigorously and the Tribunal noted that the exercise of the shooting rights only took place on ten occasions per year and compared those rights to the value of shooting rights elsewhere. In reaching its conclusion the Tribunal decided that the Claimant’s argument was reliant on a number of speculative assumptions. In short, the Tribunal was not convinced by Mr Hanbury-Tenison’s case and decided that any value over and above the value of shooting rights should be disregarded. Although Abergavenny is some considerable distance away, the arguments in this case will be well known to all those landowners who have recently negotiated and settled their cases with the Highways Agency following the compulsory acquisition of land for the new A46 road.