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

Section 75: aquaria

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 Aquaria premises.

2. List description and special category code

List description: Aquarium and Premises

Primary Description Code: MX

SCAT code: 403, 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. You can find contact details here (P:\CEO1\Intranet\Reval 2017\VP & CCTs). The team is responsible for the approach to and 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

Covered by the same legislation as terrestrial zoos, aquaria 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 similar requirements in public education, conservation and animal welfare.

6. Survey requirements

Aquaria should be measured to Gross Internal Area (GIA) in accordance with the VOA Code of Measuring Practice. Notes should be made describing the general type of attraction the aquarium affords and the facilities offered, e.g. shop, café, car parking. A brochure should be obtained together with details of current entry charges and opening times. A detailed note should be made, together with annotation on the plan, of all parts that are not used in connection with the leisure attraction, e.g. research facilities.

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

As there will be few, if any, open market rents on this class of property and the majority of operators of this class are commercially orientated, the primary approach to valuation will be the receipts and expenditure method (see RM 4:2).

8.2 Accounts information

Where there is no reliable rental evidence but it can be discerned that the desire to trade profitably is the prime motive of occupation then 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.

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

Care needs to be exercised to ensure that all income has been included. Where the subject is part of a group, eg Merlin Entertainments, sales of an annual ticket, which provides access to all sites in the group, may be accounted for in a separate company.

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.

8.3 Percentage of gross receipts

This should be used as a method of comparison of valuations derived from a full R&E, and of valuing hereditaments for which full accounts are not available.

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: 2017 - aquaria

1. Market appraisal

Properties within this class range from very small, privately owned aquaria to the large Millennium project known as ‘The Deep’ in Hull, which boasts 2.5m litres of water and Europe’s deepest viewing tunnel. Generally the aquaria will exhibit aquatic life in all forms mainly in various sized glass tanks. The largest of these tanks often enable visitors to walk under/through to view the swimming exhibits. There may also be tanks where the public can touch the fish.

Most aquaria are commercial concerns where the intention is to trade profitably; although they may include areas dedicated to research and welfare of sea life not generally open to the public. Aquaria grew in popularity as tourist attractions with the advent of ‘Sealife Centres’ in the mid-1980s.

These centres proved to be a successful venture with increasing receipts and visitor numbers until the mid- 1990s when a number of other independent centres opened, at both coastal and inland sites. These were often larger and more dramatic than the ‘Sealife Centres’ which had not generally updated their facilities. At the end of that decade the less profitable centres were sold to independent operators. Other independent operators who came onto the scene from 1996 onwards have altered the concept, with larger, more architecturally striking buildings housing larger tanks and exhibits, and expanding the established offering of interactive displays, restaurants and amusements.

In recent years, aquaria have become increasingly popular as advanced technology has allowed them to keep larger and a more diverse number of species.

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 Section 1085 : Leisure Attractions: Practice Note 1 : 2017.

Practice note 1: 2010 - aquaria

1. Co-ordination arrangements

This is an SRU Class. Responsibility for ensuring effective co-ordination lies with the Specialist Rating Units. For further information see RM: Section 6: Part 1.

The R2010 Special Category Code 403 should be used. As an SRU Class the appropriate suffix letter should be S.

2. Valuation guidance

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

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 aquaria. All valuations should be entered onto the NBS under the relevant Scat Code.