Public Open Space

Freehold Houses: Estate Charges

The document below deserves some of your time. It was supplied by our Ward Councillor and discusses Estate Charges. Here is Para 6 as an example.

It is up to developers and the local planning authority to agree appropriate funding arrangements as part of those commitments. Conditions and planning obligations cannot, however, currently be used to compel local authorities to do something. The local authority has powers to ensure that developers build and maintain communal facilities to the standards and quality set out in the planning permission. In terms of roads, local highways authorities are responsible for the maintenance of local public roads in England. A decision on whether to adopt a road is a matter for the local highway authority and the Government have no direct role in that process.

It has been suggested that freeholders who pay these charges should receive a rebate in their council tax. We think that argument is misplaced. The amount of council tax due from each of us is not adjusted to reflect the specific level of services we receive as residents of the area. Instead, the level of council tax helps the authority to deliver a broad range of services to the wider community in its area. It is open to local authorities to offer council tax discounts to individuals or groups of taxpayers. This is an entirely local decision.

In the end, all these matters have to be paid for. There is only so much money that can be extracted from a particular housing development. It is therefore at the discretion of local authorities to decide the balance of 106, the cost to them of adopting measures, and where and when maintenance should fall on residents rather than on the local authority.

It should always be clear to potential purchasers what the arrangements are for the upkeep of open space and the maintenance of roads. However, we do not think that requiring local authorities to adopt all communal facilities on new developments is the right approach. It removes local flexibility and, in our view, sends the wrong message to developers about their responsibilities.

Helen Goodman said she would take the matter up with the Financial Conduct Authority.

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