Rating Manual section 6 part 3: valuation of all property classes

Section 1130: Zoos and safari parks

This publication is intended for Valuation Officers. It may contain links to internal resources that are not available through this version.

1. Scope

This section applies to all Zoo and Safari Park premises.

2. List description and special category code

List Description: Zoo and Premises or Safari Park and Premises Primary Description Code: LX SCAT code: 304, suffix S

3. Responsible teams

This is a specialist class of property, to be valued by Specialists in each Business Unit.

4. Co-ordination

The Class Co-ordination Team has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of this class. Contact details are in VP and CCT Members. The team is responsible for the approach, accuracy and consistency of valuations. The team will deliver Practice Notes describing the valuation basis for revaluation and provide advice as necessary during the life of the rating lists. Caseworkers have a responsibility to:

  • follow the advice given at all times

  • not depart from the guidance given on appeals or maintenance work, without approval from the co-ordination team

  • seek advice from the co-ordination team before starting any new work

Zoos and Safari Parks are licensed under the UK Zoo Licensing Act (1981), and the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice (2004), and are subject to meeting specified requirements as regards public education, conservation and animal welfare.

6. Survey requirements

Zoos and Safari Parks should be measured to net internal area (NIA) or gross external area (GEA), depending upon the use of the building, in accordance with the VOA Code of Measuring Practice for Rating Purposes.

The survey should include the following information:

  • A site plan showing the full extent of the property, location of all buildings together with their use and any other information.

  • Details of access and parking;

  • Entry charges including details of any concessionary rates, yearly rates, free admissions policy;

  • Times and days of opening including details of any seasonal closures;

  • Details of any other facilities provided such as use for conferences, research facilities, head/regional offices and conservation activities.;

  • If the occupation is by a charity details should be obtained of any trading company operating all or part of the property, e.g. shops and restaurants (see paragraph 6 below);

  • A brochure for the property.

7. Survey capture

In all cases plans and surveys should be stored in the property folder of the Electronic Document Records Management (EDRM) system.

8. Valuation approach

8.1 Method of valuation

It is unlikely that such occupations will be under an arm’s length lease and, in any event, passing rents are unlikely to reflect the tenant’s improvements involved in creating the hereditament. Much of the value will be inherent in, for a Safari Park, the open pens and for a Zoo in the cages and pens. As many operators of this class are commercially orientated, the main approach to valuation should be on the basis of receipts and expenditure (R&E) - for guidance see RM Section 4 Part 2.

The only post-war rating case concerned the valuation of Chessington Zoo - Surrey County Valuation Committee v Chessington Zoo Ltd KBD 1950 RIT Vol 43. Judicial approval was given to the valuation of the zoo on a full receipts and expenditure basis in preference to a valuation estimating the rent which would be given for the premises if used for domestic or institutional purposes, plus a percentage on the capital cost of erecting buildings and some addition for the primarily favourable transport facilities. It was also held that profits were not necessarily the sole element in arriving at the value of the premises. Other issues concerned the adjustment of the relevant accounts to derive the bid of the hypothetical tenant.

8.2 Accounts information

Given the above, a valuation based on the accounts will be the best starting point. It is essential that the accounts information is provided for at least three years prior to the Antecedent Valuation Date; full copies of audited accounts should be requested.

Where available this will give a comprehensive guide as to past trading achievements, identify any trend and enable the fair maintainable receipts to be estimated. The rental bid of the hypothetical tenant at the AVD can then be derived and will reflect likely future levels of receipts and expenditure.

Care needs to be exercised to identify abnormalities in the accounts. These can vary from such things as two Easter holiday periods in one accounting year to unseasonal poor weather and specific unusual trading circumstances.

Where the Zoo or Safari Park is in receipt of any grants, subsidies or subscriptions these should be added to the gross receipts where it can reasonably be assumed that they would be received by the hypothetical tenant on a continuing basis. However where the organisation either runs off-site activities, i.e. conservation or off-site research projects, then the funds spent solely on the off-site activity should be excluded, but care needs to be taken to ensure that such elements as shared staff and premises facilities are correctly accounted for.

It is not unusual with these types of hereditaments to find concession occupations. Checks must be made to ensure that any such occupations are identified, terms of the concession understood and the appropriate income identified and valued correctly.

Valuations arrived at using a full R&E valuation should be analysed as a percentage of gross receipts to facilitate comparison with other properties where full accounts are not available - see 8.3 below.

8.3. Comparative approach

In the absence of full accounts information the RV should be arrived at using a comparative valuation method applying a rental percentage to the estimated Fair Maintainable Trade (FMT) as at the AVD having regard to the actual gross receipts (excluding VAT).

See the relevant Practice Note for further guidance on percentages to be applied.

9. Valuation support

All valuations should be entered onto the Non-Bulk Server (NBS) under the relevant Scat Code.

Additional support is available through:

  • Survaid.

  • Class Co-ordination Team for Leisure Attractions.

Practice note 1: 2017: Zoos and safari parks

1. Market appraisal

Properties will range from the large nationally known Zoos and Safari Parks, such as London and Bristol Zoos, to the small local Zoo or Safari Park which house only a few animals or species. The primary function of these types of hereditaments is the exhibition of wild animals, although there has, over the last few years, been a move for sites to become increasingly linked with wildlife and conservation projects in the UK and abroad.

Many of these are commercial concerns where the desire exists to trade profitably, though many are operated by a scientific society, preservation body or other charitable organisation whose aims may not be purely commercial e.g. London Zoo which is operated by The Zoological Society who were granted a Royal Charter in 1829. The Zoological Society objectives are stated as: “the advancement of zoology and animal physiology and the introduction of new and curious subjects of the animal kingdom”.

Since their establishment in the 19th century, Zoos have traditionally consisted of a series of buildings and enclosures that afforded the animals limited movement - their sole object being the display of species. This concept has seen substantial change with initially the introduction of Safari Parks and latterly an increasing emphasis on conservation and protection. The “Lions of Longleat Safari Park” located between Bath and Salisbury was the first of the drive-through Wildlife Parks and opened in 1966. Here the object was to exhibit wild animals by allowing them to behave as naturally as possible in the relative freedom of spacious reserves. By the early 1970s many more Safari Parks were established and had become popular attractions.

Following the success of the Safari Parks and changing public attitudes towards wild animals, Zoos became much more conscious of the necessity to provide more space for their animals as well as exhibiting them in habitats more closely aligned to their natural setting. Consequently far more attention is now given to the design of the buildings and enclosures providing the setting for animals in Zoos.

Safari Parks are no longer the novelty they were at their inception in the early 1970s and the public are less keen to view wild and dangerous animals at close proximity. This fall in popularity, coupled with increased competition from other leisure activities, has resulted in a decline from the 1980s in the number of visitors with a commensurate squeeze on profitability. By 1983 most of the Safari Parks and many Zoos were operating only on marginal levels of profitability, or indeed were making a loss.

To try and stem this flow, operators have sought either to present their attractions in a much more exciting manner and or to diversify by providing other sources of amusement, e.g. rides. Some of the smaller Zoos and Safari Parks have been forced to close and some of the remaining occupiers look to support from the local authority, educational society or some other benefactor to remain financially viable.

Although receipts have generally increased over the years (through higher admission charges), properties of this type have continued to find it difficult to maintain profitability. That said, the better sites have secured their status through diversification - involving more amusement orientated activity and a greater focus on conservation and research, which in themselves attract grant income.

2. Changes from the last practice note

There are no changes from the broad principles followed for the 2010 Rating Lists and the approach therefore is the same.

3. Ratepayer discussions

None at present.

4. Valuation scheme

Valuation guidance on this class for 2017 is contained within RM : section 6 part 3 : S1085 : Leisure Attractions: Practice Note 1 : 2017.

Practice note 1: 2010: Zoos and safari parks

1. Co-ordination arrangements

This class is split between Groups and Specialist Rating Units, with SRUs dealing with those over £25,000 RV. Responsibility for effective co-ordination lies with the SRUs.

For further information see RM : Section 6: Part 1.

Special Category Code 304 should be used. As a split class the appropriate suffix letter should be either G or S.

2. Valuation guidance

Valuation guidance on these classes for 2010 is contained within RM : Section 6: Part 3 S1085 : Practice Note 1 2010 : Leisure Attractions.

This property is valued using the non-bulk server.

3. IT support

The development a new facility on the Non Bulk Server (NBS) should enable input of factual data to achieve valuations that follow the recommended approach for zoos and safari parks parks. All valuations should be entered onto the NBS under the relevant Scat Code.

Practice note 1: 2005: Zoos and safari parks

1. Co-ordination arrangements

This class is split between Groups and SRUs, with SRUs dealing with those over £25000 RV. Responsibility for effective co-ordination lies with the SRUs.

For further information see RM: section 6 part 1.

The 2005 Special Category Code 304 should be used. As a split class the appropriate suffix letter should be either G or S.

2. State of the industry

Traditional zoos and safari parks have had a difficult time between list AVDs, 1998 and 2003. A significant public dislike of keeping animals in captivity has damaged traditional zoos, and both these and safari parks suffered badly during the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak.

Generally most zoos and safari parks have shown only marginal increases in receipts over the 5-year period. The exceptions to this trend are those zoos and parks that have diversified into theme and amusement park type activities and have boosted visitor numbers accordingly.

In the year preceding AVD, 1 April 2003, operators have faced substantially increased costs by way of public liability insurance and many would be facing increased capital expenditure to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act coming into force in October 2004.

3. Valuation guidance

Many of the operators in this class are commercially orientated, and the main approach to valuation should be on the basis of receipts and expenditure (RM section 4 part 2 et seq). Wherever possible profit and loss accounts should be considered for the three years preceding the AVD 1 April 2003. Care should be taken with any accounts covering the period of February to September 2001, as many zoos and safari parks suffered a substantial loss of trade due to FMD.

In some cases VOs may find that a full receipt and expenditure valuation produces a NIL divisible balance, or a very low figure. It should be noted, however, that a significant number of hereditaments in this class are registered charities or operated by scientific or research establishments whose aims may not be strictly profit motivated. In such instances, VOs may properly reject the full receipts and expenditure valuation in favour of an approach based upon a percentage of gross receipts. Where this approach was adopted in the 2000 rating list, the percentage adopted usually fell within the range of 6%-8%. For the 2005 rating list, with increased costs in some areas, it may be appropriate to adopt 5%-7% for traditional occupations and up to 8% where diversification has been successful.

As any rental income from concessions provides the operator with a much higher level of profitability it should not be treated in the same way as the gross receipts. Concession income should be valued at 25%-50% depending upon the amount of services or other costs incurred by the landlord.