Outrage as Northampton estate levied £200,000 a year to maintain '˜ditches'

Residents on a new estate in Northampton are up in arms after being told they will each have to pay £200 a year for the upkeep of a set of flood defences.

Friday, 29th April 2016, 6:29 am
Residents of an Upton estate are being levied £200 to pay for a set of drainage ditches and open space each year.

Homes on the Upton One estate are protected from floods by a set of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, (SUDs) which many say are effectively grass ditches for collecting rainwater and drainage.

However, as the open spaces on the estate were never adopted by Northampton Borough Council, they remained under he ownership of the Homes and Communities Agency, until now.

For the last seven years residents have been able to pay an optional maintenance charge to look after the SUDs, the open spaces and a play area there.

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But as of April 1, the land was transferred over to Birmingham-based charity The Land Trust, which has now made the charge mandatory, requiring around 1,000 households to pay £200 a year to pay for the upkeep.

Residents have reacted angrily.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “St James doesn’t have to pay for their flood defences or siren; they don’t have to pay for their parks.

“If we are paying for them should we now put a 6ft fence around it so no one else can access them.

“If they levy 1,000 homes that’s £200,000 they’ll raise - does it cost that much a year to maintain grass ditches.”

Residents are being asked to pay the levy in two instalments - one in April and one in October, each year.

However, about half of the homes on the estate are managed by social housing agencies.

A spokeswoman for the Land Trust - a charity which manages open spaces public open spaces, such as country parks, nature reserves and woodlands, across the UK - said it was still in discussions with housing association tenants as to how they will be levied.

She said: “The Land Trust is a national land managing charity and we want to work with the community to create green spaces around their properties, which enhances their estates and their property value.”

“We don’t want to just be someone who comes in and cuts grass verges.”

The Land Trust is holding a public meeting at the Elgar Centre on Wednesday, May 25, to discuss the levy with residents.