Australia: Queensland Land Court dismisses an appeal on the basis of inadequate evidence and a valuation based on a false assumption

In brief

The Land Court's decision in Heatham Pty Ltd as Trustee v Valuer-General [2017] QLC 26 concerned an appeal against the Valuer General's value of the Appellant's land at 429 Fairfield Road, Yeronga. The landowner argued that the value was not supported by comparable sales and was excessive. The landowner further contended that the best use of the land was for residential purposes as a four storey residential development with underground car parking, contrary to the Valuer General's valuation.

The Court found that both the landowner's valuer and the Valuer-General erred in their valuation method. In particular, the Court found significant errors in the approach used by the landowner's valuer whose evidence was based on a false assumption that the highest and best use of the land was as a residential development.

The Court found that the assumption of the landowner's valuer was contrary to the relevant planning scheme, being the Brisbane City Plan 2014, as the planning scheme allowed a code assessable mixed use development in a district centre.

The Court ultimately held that the landowner failed to discharge its onus of proof with respect to any of its grounds of appeal. The Court ordered that the appeal be dismissed and that the valuation appealed against be confirmed.

Highest and best use of the land

The Valuer-General valued the land at $3,800,000 whereas the landowner argued that the valuation should be $3,000,000. The Valuer-General contended that the highest and best use of the land was as a code assessable mixed use development in a district centre. The landowner's valuer contended that the highest and best use of the land was as residential land.

The Valuer-General claimed that the landowner had failed to discharge its onus of proof under section 169(3) of the Land Valuation Act 2000 on the basis that the landowner's valuer had not followed the method claimed to have been applied, and had provided insufficient evidence to support the claim that a residential development was the highest and best use of the land.

Landowner's valuation report

The Court held that the landowner's valuer had inconsistently valued the comparable sales. The Court found that out of the four sales contained in the report, only one applied the direct comparison approach. The comparable sales relied upon by the landowner were as follows:

  • Landowner's Sale One - Sale one was identified by the Court as the best comparable sale. It was located at 295 Fairfield Road, Yeronga. It was sold on 14 August 2014 for $4,500,000. The Valuer-General valued the land at $3,800,000 on 1 October 2014. The landowner's valuer valued the site at $5,000,000. This price was established by taking into account the costs associated with decontamination, flood mitigation, and infrastructure credits. The landowner's valuer relied upon a figure of $373 per square metre by dividing the sale price by the total useable area.
  • Landowner's Sale Two - Sale two was land situated at 586 Sherwood Road, Sherwood. It was sold for $510,000 in November 2013 and was zoned for a medium density residential use. The Court noted that the landowner's valuer did not take into account the age of the sale, being 11 months before the valuation date. The sale price equated to a rate per square metre of $630. The landowner's valuer however applied $654 per square metre as the purchaser of the land had improved the land by developing a four storey, 12 unit development. The Court found fault in this approach as it did not relate to the sale of the land, and therefore the price of $654 per square metre should not have been considered. The price was not reflective of the initial sale of the land and was analysed on the applied value.
  • Landowner's Sale Three - The Court found again that the landowner's valuer did not apply the alleged valuation method of direct comparison. It was established by the Court that the land should have been valued at a figure of $315 per square metre. The landowner's valuer valued the land on its sale price and did not take into account improvements made and the loss of land. Furthermore, no allowance was made for the fact that parts of the analysed land were categorised under the Brisbane City Plan 2014 as having high ecological significance.
  • Landowner's Sale Four - The landowner's valuer valued the land on the basis of its applied value. The error in this approach was that the sale price which the landowner's valuer utilised was not for the entire property, rather a 7/8 interest in the land. This approach was rejected by the court as it was deemed unreasonable.

Valuer-General's valuation report

The Valuer-General provided five comparable sales. These sales were subject to criticism by the landowner's valuer and also the Court.

  • Valuer-General's Sale One - The first comparable sale was located at 60 Shottery Street, Yeronga. The land was sold on 24 March 2015. This land was the Valuer-General's primary sale as it was close to the subject land and had the same zoning. The landowner's valuer however had concerns about the valuation date. The valuation of the subject land was 1 October 2014. The landowner's valuer asserted that the sale date of this land was significantly after the valuation date of 1 October 2014 and therefore could not be used as a comparable sale.
  • Valuer-General's Sale Two - Sale two consisted of three houses located at 15, 17 and 221 Yeronga Road, Yeronga. These properties were bought on 12 July 2013 and demolished to obtain an area of 1,169m². This area was zoned medium low density. The landowner's valuer argued that this land was an unsuitable comparison due its earlier sale date, and because it was considerably smaller and possessed a different zoning. The Court also noted that the valuation did not allow for demolition costs or infrastructure charges credit.
  • Valuer-General's Sale Three - The land used for this comparison also did not take into account associated demolition costs or infrastructure charges credits. The land was located at 902-906 Logan Road, Holland Park West. It was smaller than the subject land, being 2,430m², and possessed uninterrupted city views.
  • Valuer-General's Sale Four - Sale four, located at 90 Waldheim Street, Annerley, was sold for $4,200,000 on 13 May 2015. The landowner's valuer had concerns about the settlement date, sale price including GST, and that, again, there was no allowance made for demolition costs or infrastructure charges credits associated with the land.
  • Valuer-General's Sale Five - Sale five sold for $3,100,000 on 28 November 2011. It was included in the emerging community zone and was located at 587 Barrack Road, Cannon Hill. The landowner's valuer argued that the lot required a retaining structure and therefore required an adjustment to the price to account for that. The landowner's valuer highlighted that the Valuer-General failed to do this.

The Court found that there were significant weaknesses to the Valuer-General's evidence. The Valuer-General's sales matrix lacked information such as infrastructure charges credits and demolition costs. The Court also noted that the Valuer-General's report was inadequate and not sufficient. The adequacy of the Valuer-General's report was not however a question for the Court to decide and thus had no impact on the outcome of the appeal.

Appeal dismissed

The principal error in the landowner's case was that the highest and best use of the land was as a four storey residential development. The Court referred to Adelaide Clinic Holdings Pty Ltd v Minister for Water Resources (1987-86) LGRA 410 as having analogous circumstances being that a value was tainted by error in applying an incorrect principle to establish the highest and best use of the land. The Court noted in that case that "the first task of the valuer is to determine what [the land] use is and then to value the land on [that] basis". In the subject appeal, the Court found that the landowners' valuer had not correctly executed these tasks.

The Court noted that under the Brisbane City Plan 2014 the zoning for the subject land allowed for mixed uses comprising retail, commercial, residential, offices, administrative and health services, community, and small scale entertainment and recreational facilities capable of servicing a district. The subject land was a retail space which included a shopping centre and child care facility with underground car parking. Contrary to the planning scheme, the landowner's valuer argued that there was limited demand in the area for a mixed use development. During cross examination the landowner's valuer did not offer any evidence to support that claim. The Court could therefore not find that the highest and best use of the subject land was residential development. The Court did however find that there is a demand for mixed use development due to the relevant planning scheme. The Court ultimately found that the landowner had failed to discharge its onus of proof on any of its grounds of appeal. The appeal was dismissed and the valuation appealed against was confirmed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Ian Wright
Ella Hooper
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions