Section 940: ski centre
This publication is intended for Valuation Officers. It may contain links to internal resources that are not available through this version.
1. Co-ordination Arrangements
This section applies to indoor snow centres and all standalone dry ski slopes.
Dry ski slopes that form part of a larger multi-use property should be valued in accordance with the instructions that apply to that particular class of property.
2. List Description and Special Category Code.
Primary Description: LX List Description: Ski Centre and Premises Scat Code: 252 Scat Suffix: S
3. Responsible Teams
This is a specialist class of property, to be valued by Valuers in each Business Unit.
The Class Co-Ordination Team has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of this class. The team is responsible for 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 and referencers 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
5. Legal Framework
Other than planning and where appropriate adherence to the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003, no specific legal framework is believed to exist for this class of property.
6. Survey Requirements
Most ski centres have their own websites, which can be accessed to obtain information on the available facilities.
The range of facilities that are to be found within this class of property varies significantly; sufficient detail should be recorded, to enable comparisons to be made.
Buildings should be measured to gross internal area (GIA) in accordance with the VOA Code of Measuring Practice for Rating Purposes; where appropriate the GIA of the ancillary areas found within a building should be separately recorded.
Appendix 1 gives general guidance on the nature of dry ski slopes.
7. Survey Capture
Surveys and plans should be stored in the property folder of the Electronic Document Records Management (EDRM) system
8. Valuation Approach
8.1 Rental Method
Open market rental information may provide the best evidence of value. Care should be taken, however, when analysing such rents, as they can often disregard substantial tenant’s improvements, which will necessitate considerable adjustment.
In the case of a fully commercially motivated operation, if possible, the adjusted rent should be tested against a receipts and expenditure valuation, and the resultant valuation expressed in terms of a percentage of gross receipts to facilitate comparison with the assessments of similar hereditaments.
8.2 Receipts and Expenditure
Where a centre is occupied by a fully commercially motivated operator, the recommended valuation approach is one based on analysis of receipts and expenditure. In the absence of full accounts, the valuation should be based on a percentage of gross receipts, having regard to rental evidence, or the analysis of receipts and expenditure on comparable hereditaments.
In some cases examination of accounts will throw up a very small or negative divisible balance. In such circumstances, consideration should be given to the possibility, of competition to occupy, from alternative sources and this should be reflected in the valuation.
8.3 Comparative Approach
Whichever valuation method is used, it is necessary to stand back and look at the answer produced in the light of comparable assessments.
9. Valuation Support
All valuations for the 2017 Rating Lists should be entered onto the Non-Bulk Server (NBS) (Class - Ski Centres (Scat Code 252)).
Other support available:
Proximity to a population centre is likely to produce better business, especially if accessible by public transport. Good road access together with coach and car parking is essential and planning approval is often dependent upon adequate provision.
A gradient which averages 14 - 16 degrees (1:4 - 1:3 or 25% - 29%) is required on site for the ski slope. This could be a natural hill, a man made hill, a ramp or any combination of these. In the case of a man made hill, the width of the mound will need to be approximately four times its height.
Size of Slope
The market potential, the constraints of the site and individual management philosophy will usually dictate the size and shape of any slope. Slopes vary in length from 30 metres to 400 metres though the most economical slopes are around the 100 metre mark. The width is much more significant and outdoor slopes should be 10 metres minimum with a separate beginners area if possible.
The ski slope should blend in with other facilities to produce good customer flow, cater for spectators and get the very best out of the site potential. The layout should be planned to allow for possible expansion as the business becomes established.
These are usually needed to create suitable skiing contours, sometimes to create barriers (eg. disguise a car park) and generally landscape the site to increase its appeal.
This is nearly always necessary however well drained a site appears, but the amount and the type of drainage required will be determined by the geology of the site.
There are two common types of dry slope matting:
Dendix is the oldest, it is made up of hollow hexagons of upturned plastic bristles approx 25mm long.
Snowflex is a more recent design, it resembles a carpet, with thinner bristles approx 10-12mm long. It is laid on a soft foam-like material, which makes it softer on which to fall.
The matting, not withstanding that it is merely wired and secured by fasteners into position, is considered to be rateable as it is enjoyed with, and enhances the value of, the land on which it rests.
Although called dry slopes, most have a water sprinkler system, which lubricates the skis on the slope. This creates a more realistic feel, and lengthens the life of both the skis and the matting.
Needs differ in relation to the prevailing ground conditions. Underlay is usually necessary to help to keep the skiing surface clean and therefore keep wear and tear to a minimum. It also helps to protect the skis and the safety bindings. The provision of run off areas at the sides of the slope will increase safety and properly prepared walkways will increase efficiency.
Depending on the size and shape of slope a certain amount of anchorage may be required to prevent any movement of the surface. A combination of several systems is often recommended according to ground conditions.
A ski lift is an essential ingredient for a viable enterprise. There are three main categories as follows:
a.Draft Lift with cable of rope at waist height - suitable mainly for slopes of up to 70 metres length.
b.Button Lift with overhead cable - suitable mainly for slopes of 75 - 300 metres length.
c.Chairlift - suitable mainly for slopes over 300 metres length.
The vast bulk of business will occur during the winter evenings so adequate lighting must be provided. 400W high pressure discharge lamps produce the best results.
Buildings are required to house equipment, workshop, offices, reception, club rooms, bars, catering, shop etc. All buildings should blend with the whole development of the site and be versatile, so as to take account of possible changes in emphasis as the facility develops and to promote good management / supervision of all areas.
These should include water, electricity (gas), telephone, and sewerage.
Since the great majority of trade will occur during the winter season a ski slope can be linked very profitably with summer based activities. Apart from creating all year round use of the site this arrangement will produce added use of ancillary facilities, improve cash flow and help to maintain staffing levels.
Practice note 1: 2017: Dry ski slopes
1. Market Appraisal
The network of dry ski slopes and indoor snow centres that exists across England and Wales offers a range of facilities which vary having regard to the nature and motives of the operator involved. Between 2007 and 2014 all ski centres faced difficult operating conditions. Economic uncertainty, increased overheads, reduced participation and a decline in demand for snow sports holidays all combined to affect visitor numbers and viability.
In 2013 the “Go Ski Go Board” initiative was launched in an attempt to encourage new and lapsed skiers back to the sport; this initiative allied to the legacy of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, an increase in exposure of skiing and snowboarding activities on television and an improving economy has resulted in increased ski and snowboard participation across the different types of centre.
The five indoor snow centres in Manchester, Castleford, Tamworth, Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead have all experienced growth in visitor numbers; their location, their ability to provide weather reliable all year round activities, and the experience and range of facilities they offer have all contributed to their popularity. The recent upward trend in attendance has not just been confined to indoor snow centres; dry ski centres have seen a general improvement in attendance / participation with centres that have undergone modernisation and /or diversification of their offer experiencing the most improvement.
There appears to be a general optimism within the industry that the recent increase in participation will be maintained. This trend and close proactive management to control outgoings should help to encourage future growth in both profitability and value.
2. Changes from the Last Practice Note
There was no Practice Note issued for the 2010 Revaluation
3. Ratepayer Discussions
There have been no 2017 List discussions on this class of property.
4. Valuation Scheme
Rents, where available, will provide useful evidence of value, but they can often disregard substantial tenant’s improvements, necessitating considerable adjustment. Any analysis of such rents will, therefore, need to be treated with caution.
In the absence of reliable rental evidence, the recommended valuation approach is one based on a full analysis of receipts and expenditure; the motives for occupation and the reliability of the figures produced will however need to be closely considered and, if appropriate, an alternative valuation should be prepared based on the comparative approach.
Analysis of the available evidence suggests that the bid ranges that should be applied to the Fair Maintainable Trade, net of VAT are as follows:
Indoor Snow Centres : 8% to 10%
Dry Ski Centres : 6% to 8%