Owners of listed buildings are entrusted to keep them in a reasonable state of repair and a failure to do so can have grave consequences. In one case, a woman whose 17th century manor house had fallen into a state of near-dereliction received just £125,000 in compensation following its compulsory purchase.
The condition of the architecturally important property had descended to the point where the local authority for the area felt that it had no choice but to exercise its powers of compulsory acquisition. It was said to be infested by dry rot and close to collapse. The council had sold the property on to an eminent architectural historian who had set his heart on restoring it to its former glory.
After being deprived of her property, the woman argued that she should receive £360,000 in compensation from the council. In ruling on her case, the Upper Tribunal accepted that, in a modernised condition, the property would be worth up to £800,000. That sum was, however, exceeded by the estimated £1.2 million cost of restoration.
If the property had been placed on the open market, rather than being compulsorily acquired, an ordinary purchaser would have been unlikely to pay even £1 for it. However, having noted that the historian had been prepared to pay £125,000 for it, the tribunal found that that was the fair measure of compensation payable.