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

Section 310: cemeteries and burial grounds

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

1. Co-ordination

1.1 This is a Group Class. Co-ordination responsibilities are set out in Rating Manual - section 6 part 1: practice note 1: 2000. For the avoidance of doubt, the co-ordination responsibilities for combined cemeteries/crematoria are as for crematoria (see Section 315 Practice Note 1: 2000).

1.2 The R2000 Special Category Code 053 should be used. As a Group Class the appropriate suffix letter should be G. For combined cemeteries/crematoria see Section 315.

2. Description

Cemeteries/Burial Grounds can be categorised in five main types:

(i) Churchyards (including those used as a place of burial) should as part of the single hereditament to which they belong, be treated as entitled to exemption from rating with the church to which they are attached, provided that the “church” is exempt under para 11 of Schedule 5 Local Government Act 1988. Because of the lack of contiguous space, extensions to churchyards are sometimes detached from the curtilage of the church, and therefore may strictly comprise separate hereditaments to which para 11 exemption does not apply. Although therefore rateable, such hereditaments have not been assessed in the past. In the event that the question of rateability is raised, VOs should seek advice from their Technical Adviser.

ii) Municipal, and not operated for profit. Older examples of this type are likely to involve high maintenance costs. The extent of gravestones, monuments and kerbstones makes grounds maintenance particularly expensive. The scale of municipal hereditaments varies considerably from the larger examples found in cities (where remaining capacity for future burials is often very limited) to small rural burial grounds often operated by parish councils. There are a few instances of new cemeteries being opened in recent years, and there is now a tendency for limitation or standardisation of memorials so as to assist grounds maintenance.

iii) Private and originally operated for profit. Typically these cemeteries were established in the 19th century and share the characteristics of the older municipal examples, but with examples of rather more grandiose memorials and mausolea. These often impose maintenance burdens and public liability problems when they become neglected. Often large areas are totally neglected. In some instances private cemeteries have been acquired by local authorities.

iv) Private charitable cemeteries are not operated for profit. They may in some instances be associated with the particular requirements of specific religions.

(v) “Woodland” or “Natural” burial sites. This type of burial has emerged since 1995. The sector has evolved and the number of sites has increased. This has largely been due to environmental awareness, cremation no longer being considered as the clean, eco-friendly method it once was. However, a secondary factor may also be the lack of traditional burial space in some areas and the resultant spiralling cost of such burial. There are many variations in the method and motives of operation, ranging from purely philanthropic woodland trusts, through farmers taking advantage of diversification schemes, to purely commercially motivated schemes at the other extreme. The physical makeup of the sites is similarly diverse; hence the generic classification of “Woodland Burial Sites” may no longer accurately describe the class. The sector itself prefers the classification of “Natural Burial Sites”, so use of the former in descriptions should where possible be avoided. Early sites typically involved regimental planting of a tree to signify the location of each grave, but as the sector has evolved, the practicalities of tree management of such an approach have been brought into question and most sites now tend to have areas of plantations in which a tree, shrub or bulbs in commemoration of the deceased may be planted possibly combined with an area of wild flower meadow. Some sites allow the use of a memorial stone sunk flush into the ground, but many do not. Larger scale sites may have memorial gardens or walls in which a plaque can be placed. It is expected that the sector will continue to grow and evolve. It is also expected that Local Authorities will continue to create natural burial grounds to provide additional burial spaces. These may be new stand-alone sites or areas within or adjoining existing municipal cemeteries.

2.1 Statutory Regulation of Local Authority Cemeteries

The burial authorities responsible for the provision, management, regulation and control of burial grounds and cemeteries are the councils of districts, London Boroughs, parishes, communities, the Common Council of the City of London, and the parish meeting of a parish having no parish council. The Local Authorities Cemetery Order 1974 made by the Secretary of State under Section 214 Local Government Act 1972 makes provision for the management regulation and control of burial grounds and cemeteries. Burial grounds may be closed under the Burial Acts 1852 and 1853 and the Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 26 para 15.

2.2 Statutory Regulation of Private Cemeteries

Cemetery companies are established by a special Act of Parliament authorising the making of a cemetery and incorporating the Cemetery Clauses Act 1847. The duties of a cemetery company are substantially the same as for local authorities, but there are additional obligations, ie: a. the duty to build a Church of England chapel on the consecrated part of the cemetery. (Local authorities are relieved of this obligation under Section 2(4) Burial Act 1900). b. the duty to appoint a chaplain and pay him such stipend as is approved by the Bishop of the Diocese in which the cemetery is situated, and c. the duty to enclose every part of the cemetery by walls and other sufficient fences of the prescribed materials and dimensions. (Local authorities are relieved of this obligation under Section 10 Burial Act 1900.)

2.3 Statutory Rules on siting of Cemeteries

Under Section 9 of the Burial Act 1855 no ground which is not already used or appropriated for use as a cemetery may be used for burials within 100 yards of a dwelling, without the written consent of the owner, lessee and occupier, or within 20 yards of a highway. Although burials may not take place within 100 yards of the external walls of a dwelling, a cemetery may adjoin such dwellings.

2.4 Records

Burials are not always marked physically on the ground, and graves may accommodate a number of burials, not necessarily of related people. It is understood that it is a legal requirement to keep records of the location of each burial. This will usually be marked on a scale plan but some sites also make use of microchip technology to mark each grave.

2.5 Disused Cemeteries

Section 6 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 provides that any owner of a disused cemetery or burial ground may convey it or grant a term of years or other limited interest to a local authority for the purpose of preserving it as a public open space. While such an arrangement is common it has not been made in respect of all exhausted cemeteries. Many are now in a very overgrown state, and may fairly be described as derelict. Others however are kept in good order in furtherance of the obligations which the operator has to maintain memorials and their setting. Disused cemeteries (or parts thereof) will therefore receive different treatment according to circumstances: a. those hereditaments which are wholly derelict and overgrown cannot be said to be in rateable occupation. Parts of hereditaments which are in this state cannot be said to contribute any value towards the whole, b. those which are used as public open space will be exempt provided that all cemetery use is exhausted, and c. those which are maintained, although exhausted, can be said to be in rateable occupation by the operator in furtherance of its maintenance obligations.

3. Survey Requirements

3.1 The basis of measurement for all buildings should be Gross Internal Area, as defined in the Code of Measuring Practice for Rating Purposes. Externally, the following data should also be recorded:

a. total site area,

b. total site area remaining for fresh interments. Inquiry should be made into how much land is needed for the next 10 years, and the period between 10 and 15 years hence,

c. any area used purely for screening purposes (eg. woodland not intended for interments),

d. the area of any land reserved for the future interment of ashes in urns,

e. area of car parks,

f. the presence/absence of hard surfaced paths/roadways,

g. perimeter length and type of fence/wall, and

h. the presence or absence of services (water, mains drainage, electricity).

3.2 It should also be ascertained whether the chapel is in use for services and whether it is certified as a place of Public Religious Worship.

3.3 The valuation to be ascribed to land already used for burials must have regard to the condition of the land and the frequency of visits. Therefore record should be taken of:

a. areas covered by existing burials which have been neglected and are no longer maintained or visited,

b. areas used for burials within the past 10 years,

c. areas used for burials between10-30 years ago, and

d. areas used for burials between 30-40 years ago

3.4 A note should be taken of those areas of the cemetery where existing graves appear to be regularly tended and visited, as evidenced by the presence of floral and other tributes.

3.5 For hereditaments consisting wholly of “Natural” or “woodland” burial grounds, the information requested in Appendix A to Practice Note 2 should be obtained. This may sometimes be more conveniently requested on inspection, and staff referencing this type of hereditament should carry a copy of Appendix A with them.

4. Basis of Valuation

4.1 General

In the absence of significant rental evidence, reliance must be placed on the contractors and/or receipts and expenditure bases. Any rental evidence which comes to light at any stage should be passed to CEO (Rating). Cemeteries are seldom operated for profit and the principal valuation method will normally be the contractors basis. Guidance on valuation is provided in Practice Note 1.

4.2 Natural Burial Sites (or “Woodland Burial” sites)

These are more appropriately valued by reference to their receipts and expenditure. No distinction in this respect should be drawn between the commercial and the charitable examples of this type. Guidance on valuation for the 2000 and later Lists is provided in Practice Note 2. This guidance does not apply to parts of larger conventional cemeteries reserved for “natural” burial.

4.3 Combined Cemeteries and Crematoria

Combined cemeteries and crematoria, in a single hereditament, should be valued in accordance with advice in Rating Manual section 6 part 3 - section 315. In the contractors basis no allowance should be made for the land exhausted by past interments, unless the total site area of the whole hereditament includes more land than would be required to provide an appropriate setting for the crematorium. In a receipts and expenditure valuation, any loss arising from the operation of the cemetery must not be set off against profits from the crematorium.

5. Case Law and Valuation Considerations

5.1 Unprofitable Cemeteries provided as a Public Service

Bingley Urban District Council v Melville VO 1969 RA 681. The Lands Tribunal President held that the subject hereditament, a cemetery, could not be valued on the profits basis since it never had and never would be operated with any idea of making a profit.

5.2 Exemption of Cemetery Chapels

Chapels will be exempt if they fall within the provisions of para 11(1) of Schedule 5 Local Government Act 1988 (see Rating Manual section6 part 6 - paragraph 7). No chapel which does not belong to the Church of England or Church in Wales can be exempt without being certified as a place of Religious Worship, as well as being used as a place of Public Religious Worship.

Practice note: 2017 - Cemeteries and burial grounds

1. Market Appraisal

As was noted before the last revaluation, the cemetery sector continues to struggle with the need to find new sites.

In a survey of local authorities commissioned by the BBC towards the end of 2013, it was predicted that England could run out of burial space within the next twenty years with a quarter of the 358 local authorities responding saying they may have no more room for burials within a decade.

Local authorities face several problems as existing cemeteries are expensive to maintain and any expansion schemes are hampered by the rising cost of land.

This has led for calls to allow for the re-use of graves after the allowance of an appropriate length of time. Reuse is permitted in Europe but is not generally practiced in this country. A pioneering scheme has been initiated by the City Of London Cemetery which has re-used over one thousand graves in the last five years.

In 2007, the London Local Authorities Act allowed for the re-use of burial land. Local authorities would have the right to ‘recycle’ graves in the capital. The act included a 75-year moratorium on disturbing remains, that a grave could not be reused if a relative objected, and a proviso that remains would have to be reburied in the same plot underneath.

Pressure on cemetery land in the south of the Capital has been eased somewhat by the opening of a new cemetery in Kemnal, Chislehurst and the proposed increase in the size of Beckenham cemetery.

There are also plans for a new cemetery in Sevenoaks.

As green issues become more prominent, there has been a noticeable increase in green and natural burial sites. Initially these sites were provided as sections of local authority cemeteries. However, the Natural Death Centre reports that there are now approximately 300 sites across the country. Six new sites have been granted planning permission over the last year and a further twenty sites are at various stages in the planning process. Private companies have become involved in the provision of natural burial sites including large national organisations. Sites are also provided by landowners and diversifying farmers. The increased private sector interest has meant that this sector has become more commercialised with a drive to increase profits at the higher end of the market.

2. Changes From The Last Practice Note

There is no available rental evidence for traditional cemeteries and therefore they will continue to be valued on a contractor’s basis.

The land value for cemeteries is now based on amenity land values ascribed to regions across the country. (see Appendix D)

For natural burial grounds, a receipts and expenditure basis will continue to be employed and for the 2017 Rating List.

3. Ratepayer Discussions

There have been no ratepayer discussions for traditional cemeteries.

For natural burials discussions have been held with a representative of the Natural Death Centre to ascertain the motives and operational considerations for occupiers and the intended valuation scheme has also been agreed.

4. Valuation Scheme

Traditional Cemeteries

4.1 The Contractors Basis

The vast majority of cemeteries are not run for profit and with the lack of any suitable rental evidence, the method of valuation to be used is the contractors basis.

4.2 The Valuation Of The Buildings (Stage One)

A limited range of buildings will be found on site and these will include chapels, stores sheds and sometimes waiting rooms for mourners. Appendix A below outlines the costs to be applied.

The costs shown in Appendix A are for ease of reference. In all cases where a cost guide code is shown that must be input into the NBS template, not the costs shown here. Where the cost guide code shows options, the costs shown in this practice note should be used to aid selection. Should the cost guide show differing costs to those shown in a current version of this practice note, please refer to the CCT.

When including chapels, regard should be had to Schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

Chapels may be exempt from rating if ;

a.the chapel is currently used for public religious worship, involving a clear invitation to the public to participate in acts of worship, and either

b.the chapel is consecrated or licensed in accordance with the procedures of the Church of England, or its use by the Church predates the coming into force of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855, or

c.the chapel is registered as a place of worship.

Further, if any cemetery buildings are obviously not required for current use and are clearly surplus to requirements, they should be excluded from valuation.

4.3 Location Factors

Location factors should be applied in accordance with the VOA Cost Guide 2017.

4.4 External Works

A specific external works addition should not be applied but is reflected in the site improvements addition outlined below.

4.5 Professional Fees

Professional fees and charges are to be added in accordance with the guidance given in the 2017 Cost Guide (See Appendix B below)

4.6 Contract Size Adjustment

No adjustment for contract size is applicable.

4.7 Site Improvements

A sum should be included in the valuation for site improvements. This sum should reflect the cost of drainage, fencing, lighting, paths, roads , hard standing and connection to services.

A lower amount can be adopted when it is thought that site improvements are minimal. For example, there is minimal hard surfacing and areas are bounded by hedges or fences rather than walls.

A cost for both circumstances are shown in Appendix C below.

The sum for improvements should only be applied to frequently visited used land and unused land that is to be utilised within the next fifteen years.

The area to which the site improvements addition should be made is subject to valuer judgment.

4.7 Age And Obsolescence Allowances (Stage Two)

Adjustments for age and obsolescence should be made in accordance with the scales contained in Rating Manual - section 4 part 3: The Contractor’s Basis of Valuation : R2017 Practice Note: Stage 2 - Age and Obsolescence Allowances, and should be applied in most circumstances

  • In the case of buildings that have been significantly refurbished a lower allowance than that indicated solely by reference to the building’s age in the scale may be applicable, particularly where the works undertaken have enabled internal re-modelling to improve the functional aspects of the property.

  • In all cases the actual age of the building is to be recorded for the purposes of determining the appropriate age and obsolescence allowance. When refurbishment has taken place the allowance and not the buildings age should be over written

Age and obsolescence allowances are not applied to site improvement amounts.

4.8 The Valuation Of The Land (Stage Three)

The amenity land value should be applied by region as set out in Appendix D below.

The land included in the cemetery should be valued in accordance with the method set out below.

A. Full amenity land value should be applied to

  • land needed for interments for the next 10 years or the existing unused remainder of the cemetery, whichever is the less. The number of interments in recent years should provide guidance on space requirements

  • the sites of car parks, roads, pathways and existing buildings provided they are necessary and not superfluous

  • the area of any land which is not intended for interments, but is maintained as landscaping or screening

B. Fifty Percent of full amenity land value should be placed on land needed for interments for between the next ten to fifteen years (where present).

C. The remainder of the land (where present) should be valued at ten percent of full amenity land value.

D. Land already used for interments (utilised land) ignoring any areas completely neglected, should be assessed at between ten to fifty percent of full amenity land value with the percentage selected reflecting the length of time these areas were last used for burials.

For guidance where the utilised land has been used for burials wholly within the last 10 years, the appropriate percentage will be 50%, wholly within the last 30 years 25%, and wholly within the last 40 years 15%. Where to pitch within this range will depend on the mixture of burial dates, and:

  • the overall frequency of visits to graves in the cemetery. This can be judged by the presence of floral and other tributes, and

  • the extent to which common graves and family graves are re-used in the cemetery

In cases of doubt the cemetery operator should be contacted to give guidance on likely future use.

Exhausted cemeteries which are maintained should be valued in accordance with the guidance relating to utilised land given above. It should be borne in mind that there is a greater likelihood that existing buildings in an exhausted cemetery are viewed as surplus to requirements and therefore should be omitted from valuation. Cemeteries which are wholly derelict and overgrown are not to be viewed as being in rateable occupation.

In isolated rural locations, a figure of full amenity land value for the region divided by 3.5 may be used.

In small villages a figure of full amenity land value for the region divided by 2 may be used.

4.8 The Decapitalisation Rate (Stage 4)

The effective capital value (ECV) of the hereditament shall be de-capitalised to an annual equivalent by taking the prescribed (higher) rate.

4.9 Stage Five

At this stage any advantages or disadvantages inherent in the cemetery site or location which has not been reflected in the valuation stages above should be considered.

Care should be taken that there is no duplication of an allowance that has already been reflected.

4.10 The Valuation Of Natural Burial Grounds

These are to be valued on a receipts and expenditure basis.

Some operators run these burial grounds on a philanthropic basis but there are a number of operators who run them for profit. To exclude the philanthropic operators, those carrying out less than forty burials a year are considered to have little or no value and should be treated as de minimis.

The sites carrying out less than forty burials per annum are however to be regarded as hereditaments and should appear in the Rating List at RV 0.

For larger operations either a full receipts and expenditure approach or a shortened approach using a percentage of turnover may be appropriate. In view of the relatively small numbers and diverse nature of woodland burial occupations further advice on an individual basis should be sought from the NSU.

4.11 IT Support

For traditional cemeteries the standard generic Contractor’s Spreadsheet held on the Non Bulk Server should be used for all valuations selecting “Cemeteries” from the drop-down menu.

For the valuation of natural burial lands, valuation information should be stored on EDRM.

Appendix A

Building Costs

ERC Cost Guide Code
Chapels of Rest £850 / m2 51601A
Stores And Sheds (Timber) £ 215 / m2 51601D
Stores And Sheds (Masonry) £850 / m2 51601H
Waiting Rooms £500 /m2 51601G

Appendix B

Professional Fee Addition

Sums up to £1,000,000 12%

Appendix C

Site Improvement Additions ERC
Higher cost £28,100 / hectare 51600S
Lower cost £20,750 / hectare 51600R

Appendix D

Amenity Land Values To Be Used By Region

London Boroughs £250,000 per hectare
   
South East £150,000 per hectare
   
South West £75,000 per hectare
   
West Midlands £75,000 per hectare
   
East Midlands £75,000 per hectare
   
East £100,000 per hectare
   
North East £30,000 per hectare
   
North West £75,000 per hectare
   
Yorkshire and Humber £75,000 per hectare
   
South Wales (excl Cardiff) £35,000 per hectare
   
Cardiff £40,000 per hectare
   
Mid & N Wales £30,000 per hectare

Practice Note 1: 2010: Revaluation 2010

1. Background.

The major issue facing the industry remains sustainability. In some areas there is only a few years capacity of land left available for burials. It is reported that some London Boroughs have no land available for the burial of the dead. Some of the legislation governing burial dates back centuries and is mainly concerned with the dignity of the deceased. Against this background the Government has set up a committee to look into the whole issue of burial and in particular the delicate issue of “re-use” of graves.

Britain is one of the only countries in Europe with a policy of not re-using graves, elsewhere it is commonly accepted as part of the culture. In previous centuries burial grounds in this country were continuously re-used and were ordinarily capable of accommodating the dead of the parish indefinitely. However following massive urban expansion in the 1820’s the existing grave yards were unable to cope and both the private and the municipal cemetery came into existence. This Victorian innovation for the veneration of the dead, brought about the concept of a grave “in perpetuity”. Hence, the problem of substantially full cemeteries, with little available land. This results in little income to meet increasing costs. Under current legislation LA’s are not legally required to provide a cemetery but where they do under the L.A. Cemeteries Order 1977 they have a duty to keep them in good order and repair. There is a particular health and safety problem with regard to old, unsafe headstones.

Cremation rapidly expanded in the later half of the twentieth century being promoted as the environmentally friendly alternative, settling at around 72% of the funeral across the country. However, with the European regulation on environmental emissions and in particular mercury, this is now coming into question. An emerging development is Natural Burial, although this is still only a small proportion of the funeral sector at present.

2. Valuation: general

2.1 Rental Evidence

No rental evidence is available for this class. If any rents come to the notice of a VO, they should be notified to CEO (Rating).

2.2 Local Authority hereditaments

Accounts returned have not disclosed any instances of operating profits being earned from this class of hereditament. Cemeteries operated by parish councils sometimes show a surplus, but this is normally found to be produced by precepts levied which are intended both to cover costs and to produce a fund for future capital expenditure. It may be concluded that since most local authority cemeteries are not capable of being operated for profit, they must be valued on the contractor’s basis. Natural burial sites operated by local authorities, are an exception to this rule (see Practice Note 2), although the presence of a Natural Burial site within a conventional cemetery or crematorium should not justify a departure from the valuation approach recommended below.

2.3 Accounts Evidence: Private hereditaments

A few private cemeteries may earn an operating profit, but no such accounts have been passed to CEO. It is likely that many private cemeteries are operated as part of a group and disaggregated accounts are claimed not to be available. If any accounts which demonstrate an operating profit come to the notice of a VO, they should be notified to CEO (Rating). It is however known that Natural Burial sites are capable of profitable operation (see Practice Note 2).

2.4 Woodland Burial Sites

Where a hereditament consists wholly of a woodland burial site, whether operated by a Local Authority, a Charity, or commercially, it should be valued in accordance with the practice note on Natural Burial Grounds.

This property is valued using the non-bulk server. The manual can be accessed here.

3. The Contractor’s Basis

3.1 The majority of cemeteries are likely to be valued on the contractor’s basis. This section provides guidance on the valuation of cemeteries using the contractor’s basis. The method remains similar to that adopted for R2000 which was discussed and agreed with representatives of cemetery operators in England and Wales.

3.2 Land Value

Different parts of the cemetery will attract different land values. The full land value depends upon the context of the hereditament:

  • in isolated rural locations, adopt amenity land value divided by 3.5,

  • in small villages, adopt a maximum of 50% of amenity value

  • in other locations, adopt amenity land value.

3.2.1 The following parts should be assessed at the full land value:

  • land needed for interments for the next 10 years or the existing unused remainder of the cemetery, whichever is the less. The number of interments in recent years should provide guidance on space requirements (see paragraph 3.13 below),

  • the sites of car parks, roads, pathways and existing buildings provided they are necessary and not superfluous, and

  • the area of any land which is not intended for interments, but is maintained as landscaping or screening.

3.2.2 Land needed for interments for between the next 10 and 15 years (where present) should be assessed at 50% of the full land value. The remainder of land needed for interments (where present) should be valued at 10% of the full land value.

3.2.3 Land already used for interments (utilised land), ignoring any areas which are completely neglected, should be assessed at between 10% and 50% of the full land value. A single percentage in this range should be adopted for all utilised land. For guidance where the utilised land has been used for burials wholly within the last 10 years, the appropriate percentage will be 50%, wholly within the last 30 years 25%, and wholly within the last 40 years 15%. Where to pitch within this range will depend on the mixture of burial dates, and:

  • the overall frequency of visits to graves in the cemetery. This can be judged by the presence of floral and other tributes, and

  • the extent to which common graves and family graves are re-used in the cemetery.

3.2.4 Areas of utilised land which are completed neglected should be ignored.

3.3 Site Improvements

Add the cost of site improvements: drainage, fencing, lighting, paths, roads, hard standings, and connections to services. Caution should be exercised where an amenity land value has been adopted which is drawn from evidence of transactions in playing fields or sports grounds, since such values are likely to reflect to some extent all the above improvements.

3.3.1 As overall guidance, it is recommended that a cost of £21,500 per hectare (location factor 1.0), excluding fees, is adopted to cover the full range of site improvements, other than buildings. Where the hereditament has minimal hard surfacing, lacks services and is bounded by hedges or fences rather than walls, this cost should be reduced to £15,000 per hectare (location factor 1.0). However, it is considered that existing site improvements on utilised land are largely superfluous. Therefore, as regards burial land, only unused land up to 15 years worth of supply and utilised land which is frequently visited should continue to attract an addition for site improvements. Burial land which is not frequently visited should have no addition for site improvement. In judging the amount of utilised land frequently visited regard should again be had to the presence of floral and other tributes. This will normally include up to the last 10 years of burials

3.4 Buildings

Add the cost of any existing buildings, provided that they are required. Buildings such as chapels which are now disused should be left out of account. Chapels which are in use, and which are not exempt, should be costed at between £770 and £1050 per sq m (location factor 1.0), depending upon quality of required finish. Apart from chapels, a limited range of buildings are normally found within cemeteries: stores and sheds are usually found; less common will be waiting rooms for mourners. These may be costed at between £190 - £770 per sq m GIA (location factor 1.0) depending upon quality. Costs for freestanding toilet blocks may be taken from the Practice Note for Public Conveniences.

3.5 Obsolescence

Deduct allowances for obsolescence. For this class of hereditament allowances on the age-related scale for non-industrial buildings (see Cost Guide) should be made only in respect of buildings. Exceptionally where buildings are larger than required to meet current needs, an additional allowance should be made; the object in such cases should be to arrive at an ARC which is consistent with the size of the required structure. No allowances should be made on land cost. Allowances in respect of site improvements such as fencing, roads and pathways should only be made where they are dilapidated, and should be related to the excess of abnormal repair costs over normal maintenance expenditure.

3.6 Stage 4 and 5

The final two stages of the contractor’s basis (decapitalisation and “stand back and look”) proceed in the normal way. VOs should not accept that the results of the contractor’s basis need to be adjusted in the light of receipts evidence. If accounts evidence for private cemeteries suggests a higher value than the contractor’s basis, this will tend to suggest that a profits basis approach is the preferred option.

3.7 Exhausted Cemeteries

Cemeteries which are maintained but exhausted should be valued as indicated above, but there is a greater likelihood that certain existing buildings will now be surplus to requirements and may be omitted from valuation. Cemeteries which are wholly derelict and overgrown cannot be said to be in rateable occupation.

3.8 Judgements as to unused land

VOs will need to judge the extent of unused land required to meet interment needs over a 10 and 15 year period on the basis that cemeteries meet a long-term need and that the hypothetical tenant will require a long prospect of continuance (paragraphs 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 above). To make this judgement, VOs may require evidence of current annual burial numbers. In requesting this information they should seek:

(i) the average annual aggregate number of new graves opened and plots leased/sold in the period 1994-2008. Where these statistics are not available, the average annual number of interments (excluding cremated remains) over this period will be an acceptable proxy, but may exaggerate land requirements where burials have been taking place in existing graves

(ii) standard (or average) plot sizes.

4. Treatment of utilised land

4.1 The following arguments are recommended to justify the practice of valuing so-called “exhausted land”.

(i) The motive for occupation of a cemetery is the provision of a public service, not profit; the appropriate valuation basis is therefore by reference to cost and not to revenue. Cemeteries do not earn net income, even where the proportion of unused land is very high. As in other cases involving valuation of hereditaments occupied for the public good, no account should be taken of revenue which fails to produce a surplus over operating costs (see the Plymouth appeals [1995 RA 69]). There is therefore no valid distinction to be made between land within a cemetery which is capable of producing a gross income and other land which is not.

(ii) Land which is incapable of accommodating further interments is often maintained in a tidy condition by the operator of a cemetery who is motivated by a need to provide a fitting resting place for human remains and to satisfy the needs of the bereaved. The use made of such land is very similar to that of memorial gardens within crematoria. The maintenance of such areas within cemeteries, often at considerable expense, will not be undertaken unless some benefit is derived; this benefit, which is social rather than commercial, indicates beneficial occupation and requires a value to be ascribed. Neglect of such areas may indicate that no such motive exists and could justify a lower or nil value.

(iii) Land occupied by existing graves may be capable of accommodating additional interments. In some cemeteries there are requirements that the first body to be deposited in a grave is buried at sufficient depth to allow further burials above. This practice is likely to become more common, especially in areas where land availability for cemetery use is limited. In the cemetery featured in the case of Bingley UDC v Melville VO (1969 RA 681) more burials were actually taking place in existing graves than in unused land. While the practice of multiple burials in a family grave may be less common than previously, unrelated burial within existing graves is possible where the previous burial right has lapsed.

(iv) Previous practice for the 1990 List (where that involved assigning nil value to so-called “exhausted” land) does not bind the VO for subsequent Lists. Revaluation is an opportunity to reconsider approaches to valuation and the determining considerations should be those raised above; in this instance they should be regarded as of greater weight than precedent. Precedent is, in fact, not entirely consistent. In the leading case on valuation of this class, Bingley UDC v Melville (VO), the VO succeeded in resisting the suggestion that a profits basis was mandatory; in doing so the VO valued all the land within the 88% “exhausted” cemetery. This practice was not challenged.

Practice Note 1: 2005: Revaluation 2005: Conventional Cemeteries and Burial Grounds

1. Background.

The major issue facing the industry at the present time is sustainability. In some areas there is only a few years capacity of land left available for burials. It is reported that some London Boroughs have no land available for the burial of the dead. Some of the legislation governing burial dates back centuries and is mainly concerned with the dignity of the deceased. Against this background the Government has set up a committee to look into the whole issue of burial and in particular the delicate issue of “re-use” of graves.

Britain is one of the only countries in Europe with a policy of not re-using graves, elsewhere it is commonly accepted as part of the culture. In previous centuries burial grounds in this country were continuously re-used and were ordinarily capable of accommodating the dead of the parish indefinitely. However following massive urban expansion in the 1820’s the existing grave yards were unable to cope and both the private and the municipal cemetery came into existence. This Victorian innovation for the veneration of the dead, brought about the concept of a grave “in perpetuity”. Hence, the problem of substantially full cemeteries, with little available land. This results in little income to meet increasing costs. Under current legislation LA’s are not legally required to provide a cemetery but where they do under the L.A. Cemeteries Order 1977 they have a duty to keep them in good order and repair. There is a particular health and safety problem with regard to old, unsafe headstones.

Cremation rapidly expanded in the later half of the twentieth century being promoted as the environmentally friendly alternative, settling at around 72% of the funeral across the country. However, with the European regulation on environmental emissions and in particular mercury, this is now coming into question. An emerging development is Natural Burial, although this is still only a small proportion of the funeral sector at present.

2. Valuation: general

2.1 Rental Evidence

No rental evidence is available for this class. If any rents come to the notice of a VO, they should be notified to CEO (Rating).

2.2 Local Authority hereditaments

Accounts returned have not disclosed any instances of operating profits being earned from this class of hereditament. Cemeteries operated by parish councils sometimes show a surplus, but this is normally found to be produced by precepts levied which are intended both to cover costs and to produce a fund for future capital expenditure. It may be concluded that since most local authority cemeteries are not capable of being operated for profit, they must be valued on the contractor’s basis. Natural burial sites operated by local authorities, are an exception to this rule (see Practice Note 2), although the presence of a Natural Burial site within a conventional cemetery or crematorium should not justify a departure from the valuation approach recommended below.

2.3 Accounts Evidence: Private hereditaments

A few private cemeteries may earn an operating profit, but no such accounts have been passed to CEO. It is likely that many private cemeteries are operated as part of a group and disaggregated accounts are claimed not to be available. If any accounts which demonstrate an operating profit come to the notice of a VO, they should be notified to CEO (Rating). It is however known that Natural Burial sites are capable of profitable operation (see Practice Note 2).

2.4 Woodland Burial Sites

Where a hereditament consists wholly of a woodland burial site, whether operated by a Local Authority, a Charity, or commercially, it should be presumed that it is capable of profitable operation and should be valued at £5,500 RV provided that the unexhausted land is 1 acre or more. Where the unexhausted land is less than 1 acre then the value adopted should be based on £5,500 per acre of unexhausted land.

3. The Contractor’s Basis

3.1 The majority of cemeteries are likely to be valued on the contractor’s basis. This section provides guidance on the valuation of cemeteries using the contractor’s basis. The method is similar to that adopted for R2000 which was discussed and agreed with representatives of cemetery operators in England and Wales.

3.2 Land Value

Different parts of the cemetery will attract different land values. The full land value depends upon the context of the hereditament:

  • in isolated rural locations, adopt agricultural land value,

  • in small villages, adopt a maximum of double agricultural land value, and

  • in other locations, adopt amenity land value.

3.2.1 The following parts should be assessed at the full land value:

  • land needed for interments for the next 10 years or the existing unused remainder of the cemetery, whichever is the less. The number of interments in recent years should provide guidance on space requirements (see paragraph 3.13 below),

  • the sites of car parks, roads, pathways and existing buildings provided they are necessary and not superfluous, and

  • the area of any land which is not intended for interments, but is maintained as landscaping or screening.

3.2.2 - Land needed for interments for between the next 10 and 15 years (where present) should be assessed at 50% of the full land value. The remainder of land needed for interments (where present) should be valued at 10% of the full land value.

3.2.3 - Land already used for interments (utilised land), ignoring any areas which are completely neglected, should be assessed at between 10% and 50% of the full land value. A single percentage in this range should be adopted for all utilised land. For guidance where the utilised land has been used for burials wholly within the last 10 years, the appropriate percentage will be 50%, wholly within the last 30 years 25%, and wholly within the last 40 years 15%. Where to pitch within this range will depend on the mixture of burial dates, and:

  • the overall frequency of visits to graves in the cemetery. This can be judged by the presence of floral and other tributes, and

  • the extent to which common graves and family graves are re-used in the cemetery.

3.2.4 Areas of utilised land which are completed neglected should be ignored.

3.3 Site Improvements

Add the cost of site improvements: drainage, fencing, lighting, paths, roads, hard standings, and connections to services. Caution should be exercised where an amenity land value has been adopted which is drawn from evidence of transactions in playing fields or sports grounds, since such values are likely to reflect to some extent all the above improvements.

3.3.1 As overall guidance, it is recommended that a cost of £17,000 per hectare (location factor 1.0), excluding fees, is adopted to cover the full range of site improvements, other than buildings. Where the hereditament has minimal hard surfacing, lacks services and is bounded by hedges or fences rather than walls, this cost should be reduced to £12,000 per hectare (location factor 1.0). However, it is considered that existing site improvements on utilised land are largely superfluous. Therefore, as regards burial land, only unused land up to 15 years worth of supply and utilised land which is frequently visited should continue to attract an addition for site improvements. Burial land which is not frequently visited should have no addition for site improvement. In judging the amount of utilised land frequently visited regard should again be had to the presence of floral and other tributes. This will normally include up to the last 10 years of burials

3.4 Buildings

Add the cost of any existing buildings, provided that they are required. Buildings such as chapels which are now disused should be left out of account. Chapels which are in use, and which are not exempt, should be costed at between £600 and £825 per sq m (location factor 1.0), depending upon quality of required finish. Apart from chapels, a limited range of buildings are normally found within cemeteries: stores and sheds are usually found; less common will be waiting rooms for mourners. These may be costed at between £150 - £600 per sq m GIA (location factor 1.0) depending upon quality. Costs for freestanding toilet blocks may be taken from the Practice Note for Public Conveniences.

3.5 Obsolescence

Deduct allowances for obsolescence. For this class of hereditament allowances on the age-related scale for non-industrial buildings (see Cost Guide) should be made only in respect of buildings. Exceptionally where buildings are larger than required to meet current needs, an additional allowance should be made; the object in such cases should be to arrive at an ARC which is consistent with the size of the required structure. No allowances should be made on land cost. Allowances in respect of site improvements such as fencing, roads and pathways should only be made where they are dilapidated, and should be related to the excess of abnormal repair costs over normal maintenance expenditure.

3.6 Stage 4 and 5

The final two stages of the contractor’s basis (decapitalisation and “stand back and look”) proceed in the normal way. VOs should not accept that the results of the contractor’s basis need to be adjusted in the light of receipts evidence. If accounts evidence for private cemeteries suggests a higher value than the contractor’s basis, this will tend to suggest that a profits basis approach is the preferred option.

3.7 Exhausted Cemeteries

Cemeteries which are maintained but exhausted should be valued as indicated above, but there is a greater likelihood that certain existing buildings will now be surplus to requirements and may be omitted from valuation. Cemeteries which are wholly derelict and overgrown cannot be said to be in rateable occupation.

3.8 Judgements as to unused land

VOs will need to judge the extent of unused land required to meet interment needs over a 10 and 15 year period on the basis that cemeteries meet a long-term need and that the hypothetical tenant will require a long prospect of continuance (paragraphs 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 above). To make this judgement, VOs may require evidence of current annual burial numbers. In requesting this information they should seek:

(i) the average annual aggregate number of new graves opened and plots leased/sold in the period 1999-2003. Where these statistics are not available, the average annual number of interments (excluding cremated remains) over this period will be an acceptable proxy, but may exaggerate land requirements where burials have been taking place in existing graves

(ii) standard (or average) plot sizes.

4. Treatment of utilised land

4.1 The following arguments are recommended to justify the practice of valuing so-called “exhausted land”.

(i) The motive for occupation of a cemetery is the provision of a public service, not profit; the appropriate valuation basis is therefore by reference to cost and not to revenue. Cemeteries do not earn net income, even where the proportion of unused land is very high. As in other cases involving valuation of hereditaments occupied for the public good, no account should be taken of revenue which fails to produce a surplus over operating costs (see the Plymouth appeals [1995 RA 69]). There is therefore no valid distinction to be made between land within a cemetery which is capable of producing a gross income and other land which is not.

(ii) Land which is incapable of accommodating further interments is often maintained in a tidy condition by the operator of a cemetery who is motivated by a need to provide a fitting resting place for human remains and to satisfy the needs of the bereaved. The use made of such land is very similar to that of memorial gardens within crematoria. The maintenance of such areas within cemeteries, often at considerable expense, will not be undertaken unless some benefit is derived; this benefit, which is social rather than commercial, indicates beneficial occupation and requires a value to be ascribed. Neglect of such areas may indicate that no such motive exists and could justify a lower or nil value.

(iii) Land occupied by existing graves may be capable of accommodating additional interments. In some cemeteries there are requirements that the first body to be deposited in a grave is buried at sufficient depth to allow further burials above. This practice is likely to become more common, especially in areas where land availability for cemetery use is limited. In the cemetery featured in the case of Bingley UDC v Melville VO (1969 RA 681) more burials were actually taking place in existing graves than in unused land. While the practice of multiple burials in a family grave may be less common than previously, unrelated burial within existing graves is possible where the previous burial right has lapsed.

(iv) Previous practice for the 1990 List (where that involved assigning nil value to so-called “exhausted” land) does not bind the VO for subsequent Lists. Revaluation is an opportunity to reconsider approaches to valuation and the determining considerations should be those raised above; in this instance they should be regarded as of greater weight than precedent. Precedent is, in fact, not entirely consistent. In the leading case on valuation of this class, Bingley UDC v Melville (VO), the VO succeeded in resisting the suggestion that a profits basis was mandatory; in doing so the VO valued all the land within the 88% “exhausted” cemetery. This practice was not challenged.

Practice Note 2: 2005: Revaluation 2005: Natural Burial Grounds

1. Scope of this Guidance.

The guidance given in this practice note specifically relates to “Natural Burial Sites” occupied by non-municipal operators.

However, Local Authorities are under no statutory obligation to provide such sites. This guidance will therefore also apply to municipal, stand-alone sites which are remote from traditional cemeteries.

For the avoidance of doubt, it will NOT apply to municipal “natural burial sites” contiguous to or which form part of a traditional municipal cemetery. These will typically constitute one assessment, and the contractor’s method should also be used to value the natural burial element. These areas will tend to be reasonably recent additions to traditional cemeteries; it is probable that there will be actual development costs available which could be indexed to AVD. It will also be appropriate to consider how much of the land is required for future years based on current numbers of burials and then value accordingly (See Practice Note 1 for guidance on the valuation of traditional Cemeteries & Burial Grounds).

This guidance is not appropriate for burial grounds with substantial buildings used for services or other gatherings, nor where there is a permanent staff presence. In such cases advice should be sought from CEO Rating.

2. Valuation Method.

2.1 Rental Evidence

Due to the relatively low capital cost of agricultural land and/or woodland in relation to the legal costs, planning, infrastructure and start up cost of such sites it is unlikely that any recognised rental market will exist for this Class.

CEO is not currently aware of any such rental evidence for this class. However, if any rents come to the notice of VOs, they should be notified immediately to CEO (Rating).

2.2 Accounts Evidence

Due to the evolving nature of this sector, in-depth discussions have been held with a representative from the Natural Death Centre, an organisation representing many of the Natural Burial Sites in England and Wales.

It is important that from the outset that occupiers of such hereditaments, though diverse, have some certainty as to their level of assessment. Smaller sites in the in the initial setting up stages are working to tight margins, as can be seen from the break even estimates below and therefore the effect of rates can sometimes be a deciding factor in the continuing viability of the operation. It must also be remembered that once an interment has taken place, the occupier will have an ongoing liability to the family of the deceased for a period of many years.

These discussions have produced fruitful contact with a wide selection of sites, many of which have provided information regarding receipts and expenditure. From this cross section, it has been possible to establish typical income and expenditure streams and it is on these figures that the valuation method below is based.

A Proforma has been compiled (Appendix A) in consultation with the NDC, to establish the information required to undertake the valuation. The NDC has been asked to circulate these forms to its members. Any full accounts details which are received by local offices, either as a result of these questionnaires or by any other means, should be copied to CEO-Rating for information.

3. Valuation Approach.

A bespoke spreadsheet has been designed to facilitate the application of the Valuation Method outlined below, which is included as Appendix B with accompanying notes on completion.

a) Income

The first stage is to establish the actual income received. This will predominantly come from two sources: -

**i) Income from Actual Burials **

The actual number of burials as at AVD will need to be considered, along with figures supplied for previous years (if available) to establish the reasonable number of burials that could have been expected as at AVD.

This Number of Burial should then be multiplied by the cost of each burial as at AVD to arrive at the total income from this source. For sites operating on low burial charges, (i.e. beneath the minimum level), the figure of £500 per burial is to be taken as the minimum level to be applied.

**ii) Income from Pre-Need Sales **

The term “pre-needs” is used to describe the practice of selling burial rights in advance of future need. The figures for Pre-Need Sales as at AVD will need to be considered, along with the figures supplied previous years (if available) to establish the reasonable number of Pre-Need Sales that could have been expected as at AVD.

This Number of Pre-Need Sales should then be multiplied by half the cost of each burial as at AVD to arrive at the total income from this source. The reason for taking only half of this income is to reflect uncertainty due to the possibility of refund. Many sites will offer either a full or substantial refund if requested by the purchaser.

**Other Income. **

From information received to date, it appears that the income from the sale of trees, plaques and seats tends to be at little more than cost, with a small additional amount to cover administration, so these will not normally be significant items when establishing income over expenditure.

b) Expenditure.

Total Expenditure should then be calculated under these heads:

i) Fixed Costs – This is an absolute cost for each site of £1,350

ii) Pathways – The figure of £50/burial should only be applied to the number of actual burials, excluding pre-need.

iii) Administration – The figure of £24/burial should be applied to both actual and pre need burials.

iv) Telephone – The figure of £14/burial should be applied to both actual and pre need burials.

v) Trees/Shrubs – The figure of £36/burial should only be applied to the number of actual burials, excluding pre-need.

vi) Maintenance Labour – This has been calculated at £674/ha for smaller sites and £462/ha for those sites over 3ha, there being a sliding scale at the margin. Subject to the guidance below on the site area to be adopted.

vii) Provision for Fencing - The figure of £90/ha should be applied to reflect the cost of providing fencing. Subject to the guidance below on the site area to be adopted.

viii) Allowance for future commitments – This is to be taken as 20% of total income for sites which are ten years old or less. Dropping to 15% of total income for sites of 11 years or more.

Actual costs of grave digging are ignored as they are normally charged separately; they can therefore be ignored in terms of both income and expenditure

Site Area.

Care should be taken when considering the site area to adopt, it is not unusual for a site to be many times the size of what may actually be required for the present burial ground. Some of this land if totally undeveloped may be better considered as expansion land for the future. (Gaining the necessary planning and environmental consents can be a complicated, lengthy and costly process, so some operators may, if they own adjoining land, choose to apply for permission on a larger area than they would otherwise). It would be inappropriate to apply the full maintenance rate to such areas, where they are clearly not yet required or contribute to the running of the current burial ground.

For example, a farmer owns three fields each of an acre, fenced separately and for which he has obtained the necessary consents for natural burial. If he has only carried out say 20 interments, side by side in the first field which may be capable of say 600 burials, then realistically the maintenance costs should only apply to that area, unless it is manifestly clear that the other areas have all been physically incorporated into the main site i.e. with boundaries, planting etc. such that a greater degree of regular maintenance, than would usually be expected for an ordinary field, needs to carried out. Where maintenance of such areas is of a lower standard than the main site and actual costs are not readily discernible, a judgement should be made as to the proportion of the full maintenance cost to be applied.

This is to avoid the anomaly of two sites which both undertake a similar numbers of interments, where the smaller site of say 1 acre has a significant rateable value. Whilst the other larger site, is valued at a nominal sum, because it has additional un-improved land to which a full notional maintenance costs has been applied. Clearly, the correct approach for the second site is to take the full maintenance costs against the developed area (which can usually be identified on site by boundaries, fencing, planting etc) and additional maintenance cost (if any) of the un-improved land, thereby giving an RV which is comparable to the first site.

c) Divisible Balance.

The remaining amount after all expenditure (outlined above) will be the divisible balance and this should be divided by 2.4 (equal share between landlord and tenant less rates liability) to establish the appropriate amount available for rent and thereby establish the corresponding rateable value.

4. De Minimis Provision.

From actual known receipts and expenditure, it is expected that there will be sites operating beneath a certain number of burials per annum without significant income from other sources, which should be treated as de minimis.

For example, a 1Ha site, operating at the minimum price level with no other significant income would be treated as de minimis if it carried out less than 8 interments per annum.

These sites should however, still be shown in the rating list but at a nominal figure of say £1 RV. This is so that the level of income and expenditure can continue to be monitored through successive revaluations.

However, such de minimis provisions are not expected to apply where one or more buildings have been constructed on site.

Practice Note 2: 2005: Appendix A: Natural Burial Grounds Form of return

Practice Note 2: 2005: Appendix B: Natural Burial Grounds

Practice note 2: 2005: Appendix B

Practice Note 2:2005 Appendix B

Name of Burial Ground

Address

2005 List calculator

No of burials pa

No of pre-need sales

pre need sales income

Income from burials (net of grave digging)

Income (net of grave digging) inc retained pre-need income

£0

Years of operation

Hectares

expenditure

fixed costs

£1,350

pathways

£0

admin

£0

telephone

£0

trees/shrubs

£0

maintenance labour

£0

total expenditure

£1,350

provision for fencing

£0

allowance for future commitments

£0

Divisible balance

-£1,350

RV before rounding

£1