Stewart Milne facing £1.7m payout to council

Grant Prior 12 years ago

Stewart Milne could have to write a cheque for £1.7m to Aberdeen City Council after losing an appeal yesterday over a long-running land dispute.

The Scotsman reported that Stewart Milne Group lost its appeal to the Supreme Court after Scottish judges had ordered the company to pay the money due to the council over the sale of a plot of land in Westhill.

The company is now hoping to work with the council to appoint an independent valuer to assess the cost of the land.

The row began in 2004 after the council sold an 11-acre site at Westhill to the company for £365,000 with the condition that it would receive a share of any profit Stewart Milne made by selling or leasing the land in the future.

An appeal hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh last year was told that the company sold the land to a linked company, Stewart Milne Westhill, for £483,020, and said there was no money in the deal for the city council because the sale cost the company £559,696.

After the sale in 2006, the council went to the Court of Session and argued the land was actually worth £5.6m.

Following a hearing in 2009, the building firm was ordered to pay £1.7m to the city council.

Stewart Milne appealed but the decision was upheld at the Court of Session last October.

And yesterday the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Session ruling, following an appeal by the company.

Glenn Allison, Group Managing Director, Stewart Milne Group said: “Stewart Milne Group accepts the ruling of the Supreme Court which has determined the criteria on which a land valuation can now be made by an independent expert.

“We should make it clear that the ruling of the Supreme Court is not and has never been about determining the value of the land.  It has determined the criteria on which such a valuation will be made.

“The often quoted figure of £1.7m is an assessment of that value by Aberdeen City Council and is based on an overstated assumption by Aberdeen City Council.

“We appointed external experts to review independently the value and on the basis of the criteria determined by the Supreme Court, their assessment of the value which will be due to be paid by Stewart Milne Group is substantially below £0.5m.

“We are keen to appoint in conjunction with Aberdeen City Council an independent expert external to both parties who can look at the full information and decide the value to be paid.

“We will be happy to abide by whatever valuation is decided by this independent expert.

“We have already offered this option on several occasions to the Council as a way to come to a resolution more speedily but they have always refused to engage with us in this way.  They have also refused every attempt we have made to resolve this disagreement.

“We have always had a good working relationship with the Council, built up over many years.

“It is important to us and despite this dispute we will continue to develop that relationship for the future.

“We now hope that the Council work with us speedily to go to an independent valuation so that we can bring this matter to a close.”

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