Room with a view will cost more in council tax, claim Tories

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Homes with a view of the countryside, mountains, lakes or rivers could cost people more in council tax under government plans to reclassify property in the UK.

The Government is drawing up a detailed list of properties in Britain, describing their location, and whether they have a balcony or roof terrace. The Tories warn that this could lead to higher council tax bills for homes with a view. Houses with a swimming pool or tennis court or more bedrooms than average could also face higher bills, they warn.

Documents show that ministers are planning to build a database of properties in England as part of a new "computer-assisted mass appraisal system" which will help officials gain details of every property in England. The system could help officials work out how much council tax properties should pay.

Earlier this year ministers shelved plans to revalue property in the UK, originally set for 2007. The Government feared a backlash from voters, particularly in the South-east, who could face massive council tax rises.

The new computer system would allow the Government to describe properties in detail using "value significant codes". Documents from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister show the new code descriptions include living on a "small plot" or "a main or busy road".

More codes denote living beside a park, on a quiet road or a cul-de-sac, or near public transport. Other details such as "equestrian facilities" or patio size will be noted on the database.

This suggests that homes in these categories could face higher bills. Other categories - such as having a cesspit, not having street lighting or living near a radio mast or pylon, suggest some homes could face lower bills.

Caroline Spelman, the Tory local government spokeswoman, said this represented "the latest stealth tax. It's a tax on the view from your house, rather than a fair charge for local services," she said.

"The new computer system has been designed to enable John Prescott's department to identify homes with garages, greenhouses, large patios or gardens. These characteristics will then be used by Labour to increase council tax on homes by pushing them into a higher council tax band."