A parish council in Northampton will be asked to consider taking over the maintenance of green areas on a new housing development - to prevent its soon-to-be inhabitants from having to pay ‘extortionate’ service charges.
David Wilson Homes and Bellway is soon due to have its bid to build another 140 houses on part of the British Timken site in Duston heard by the borough council’s planning committee.
But there are concerns the green areas on the site will be handed over to an outside company to maintain - as has been the case with previous developments on the former factory land.
It would mean the new estate inhabitants would be charged fees on top of their council tax to look after the grassy areas. Some people already living on the estate pay up to £500 a year to outside companies such as Meadfleet and Chamonix - a bill which has become known locally as the ‘Timken tax’.
At tonight’s Duston Parish Council meeting, Councillor Sandy Maitland will ask the authority to look into adopting the green parcels of land on the site itself to avoid.
She said: “A lot of the people who buy these homes go right to the point of exchanging contracts and they are told the service charge is £50 a year.
“Then they discover that they put the prices up - and there is no way they can stop it.
“Then, if they refuse to pay the management company, they are taken to court.
“The thing is they are still paying the same taxes that everyone else is paying.”
Councillor Maitland said that groundskeepers have been sent over from Birmingham to cut lawns on the Timken estate in the past - which she argued was not a cost-effective way of maintaining the areas.
Back in September, Northampton Borough Council agreed that it would ‘resist’ the imposition of management companies on new estates.
“This Council will encourage developers to consider all the alternatives available for managing the facilities on new developments in the borough and Northampton growth area,” a motion to the September council meeting resolved.
As four borough councillors sit on Duston Parish Council as well, Councillor Maitland said that part of her motion will involve calling on those members to honour their word.
A spokesman for David Wilson Homes South Midlands and Bellway Northern Home Counties, said: “We will be working together to ensure that the management
of all open spaces is consistently looked after by a third party.
“As part of our ongoing S106 negotiations with the Northampton Borough Council, we will carry out a management regime for the site’s green open spaces which will
meet the necessary requirements.
“We will be happy to consider the various options available, including the potential of transferring the open space with a commuted sum to a local authority, or the setting
up of a private management company.”