16th May 2006

Latest housing blight figures add weight to High Court case against BAA

The latest local house price figures published by the Government’s Land Registry last week are expected to strengthen the High Court challenge being mounted by Takeley Parish Council over BAA’s refusal to compensate local homeowners for property devaluation caused by the expansion plans for Stansted Airport.

The official figures to the end of March, just published, show average Essex house prices rising by 3.5 percent over the year but house prices in Uttlesford rising a mere 0.3 percent – a trend which has been evident since the Stansted expansion plans were first announced and which now equates to an average devaluation of £34,000 of every home in Uttlesford. [see Note 1]

All property types have been affected ranging from detached homes which have lost an average of £61,000 of their value to flats and maisonettes that have lost £10,000.

Postcode areas CM22 and CM24 have been particularly badly affected over the past year with an actual fall in average house prices. These postcode areas include Stansted Mountfitchet, Burton End, Takeley, Henham, Elsenham, the Hallingburys, Hatfield Heath and Hatfield Broad Oak.

BAA’s recent consultation on various locations for a possible second runway as well as the growing concern about the scale and impact of its expansion plans for the existing runway appear to have triggered renewed nervousness amongst potential homebuyers.

Despite the evidence of the ongoing problem affecting some 12,000 local homeowners, BAA is still only prepared to offer compensation to around 500 homeowners in the immediate vicinity of the airport.

BAA’s refusal to accept responsibility for the problem is the subject of an ongoing legal challenge in the High Court led by Takeley Parish Council with financial backing from a number of other local parish councils. They are appealing against an earlier High Court ruling that there was no legal force to the obligation placed upon BAA by the Government “to put in place a scheme to address the problem of generalised blight resulting from the runway proposal.” [see Note 2]

Trevor Allen, Chairman of Takeley Parish Council commented: “This latest evidence of the widespread blight around Stansted Airport merely strengthens Takeley Parish Council’s resolve in our High Court action to expose BAA’s woefully inadequate and grossly unfair HOSS agreement. It’s a sad day when local communities are forced into the expense of a High Court challenge in order to try to get justice from a wealthy company which refuses to honour its obligations. Nobody here asked for this ever-growing airport and local people shouldn’t be left with the problem of a housing market in limbo and being unable to sell their houses at any decent price.”

A date for the hearing in the Court of Appeal is still awaited.

Note 1: The Land Registry house price statistics are published every three months, for each region, county, district and postcode sector in England and Wales. The LR statistics are also broken down for each category of housing i.e. detached, semi-detached, terraced and flats/maisonettes. The latest annual statistics quoted are for the year ended 31 March 2006 compared to the year ended 31 March 2005 and the cumulative position quoted is for the period since 30 June 2002, which provides the baseline prior to the announcement, in July 2002, of major expansion plans for Stansted. This data can be verified on the LR website at: www.landregistry.gov.uk/propertyprice/interactive/ppr_ualbs.asp and SSE would be happy to provide any further information required on the calculations upon request.

Note 2: “The Future of Air Transport”, Department for Transport, December 2003, paragraph 11.41, page 117.

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits