Tuesday, 26 July 2011

"Pensioner's garden falls into river after torrential rain"

From The Metro:

Half of the garden fell 12metres (40ft) into the raging River Eden in Wetheral, Cumbria, including the shed and most of her patio. And she didn’t hear a thing. Mrs Howe, 72, who is a church verger, described what happened: ‘I was reaching to the kitchen sink for a knife and looked through the window – a big part of the garden had gone...As you can see, Mrs Howe's house is now teetering on the edge, and her insurance company is refusing to pay up (rightly or wrongly). Clearly, the value of the bricks and mortar has been destroyed, that's a net loss of wealth to humankind (whether she pays it or whether the insurance company finally caves in [sic] and pays), but what happens to the location value?

A plot directly overlooking a river usually has a much higher value than a plot further back (if we ignore the risk of the river bank collapsing again). The location value of her plot, seen vertically, is now zero, presumably, but assuming Mrs Howe's whole house is declared unsafe and demolished, what happens to the value of the plot behind it that previously had no 'riverside premium' but now does - hasn't the location value of that plot just jumped by the same amount as the location value of Mrs Howe's plot has fallen?


A K Haart said...

If grass grown on that, it'll be hell to mow - especially at 72.

James Higham said...

Does the rubble still count as hers?

Mark Wadsworth said...

AKH, yup. Good drainage though.

JH, that's not clear, but even if it does, it's not worth much. Hell to mow, and all that.

Steven_L said...

Safe as houses!

neil craig said...

I suspect the major loss in value will not be not having ai back garden but that any surveyor will assume her house is next.

I think it would be possible to shore up what remains with a concrete embankment. How much this will cost to do. How much it will cost to get permission to do it and who pays are the vital questions to which I have no answer.

Another interesting question is whether this river has been cutting away the ground for millenia or whether some change in land use up or downstream is causing it (or indeed whether, like the Cockermouth flood some simple but "unnatural" action like dredging could have stopped it).

Mark Wadsworth said...

NC, sure, but that wasn't my point. Imagine that you 'own' all the land on one side of the riverbank, stretching back for a mile. If a bit of it falls into the river, what have you lost? Nothing, because you will always own that very valuable bit directly overlooking the river.

You would be daft to try shoring it up, because whatever value you create at one margin, you lose elsewhere.

See also the plot of the first Superman film with Christopher Reeve - it's only if one person owns the riverbank and you own the land behind it that it makes any difference.

Bayard said...

"Nothing, because you will always own that very valuable bit directly overlooking the river."

Yes you have, because you've lost the bit that had planning permission for a house on it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, PP is a separate issue.