Northampton councillors call for open spaces to be transferred to borough instead of management companies

The borough council will need the support of the majority of councillors if it is to adopt the motion
The borough council will need the support of the majority of councillors if it is to adopt the motion

Northampton Borough Council could be set to call for open spaces in new housing developments to be transferred to the authority, as councillors are concerned about the lack of transparency of private management companies responsible for them.

Liberal Democrat councillor Brian Markham is proposing the motion at next Monday’s full council meeting (March 11) and is being backed by Conservative councillor and deputy leader Phil Larratt.

It follows up on concerns that were expressed in a previous motion back in September, regarding the number of housing developments that were establishing management companies to manage and maintain open spaces with ‘no democratic oversight or accountability’.

The motion also calls for developers to build in open spaces to a ‘required standard’ that the council would adopt.

The motion states: “In order to protect residents from uncontrolled charges and poor levels of service this council would like to see all open spaces and other amenities provided by developers built to the standard required by local authorities for adoption, and calls upon planning officers to do all that they can to achieve this in their negotiations with developers.

“This council wishes to make it clear that it will aim for open space land on new residential developments to be transferred into the council’s ownership.”

If the motion is agreed by councillors at the meeting, the borough will also try to convince its colleagues at Northamptonshire County Council to make it a condition of any lands sales for potential residential development that the relevant local authority retains ownership of the open space.

Residents’ associations have previously complained about rising maintenance fees at the Upton Meadows estate, and the Timken Estate in Duston.

The motion continues: “Additionally, this council will fully research the problems and issues that residents, residents’ associations, and parish councils have with management companies in Northampton, and resolves to write to the Secretary of State expressing them as well as the views of the council.

“Furthermore, this council will work with the Local Government Association to lobby the government for legislation to address the issue of management companies with a view to protecting residents from unreasonable maintenance charges, giving them the right to challenge such charges, as well as providing communities, including town and parish councils, the opportunity to take on the role and responsibilities of the management companies.”