We are looking for home owners on private estates in Birmingham to work with one of our members to hold Birmingham City Council to account for their part in landing them in this invidious position.
If you want to join with this effort, please email via our contact form and we can put you in touch.
This is a copy of an email our member, M F, sent to all of the councillors at Birmingham City Council and his MP:
F.A.O all Birmingham City Councillors
From Section S106 to Fleecehold ?
(Freehold or Leasehold Properties on Private Estates with Estate Charges)
How many of your constituents are affected ?
What is happening on your watch ? In your name ? You represent BCC.
We are certainly not the only estate …..
Legal Bribery ?
Points in Brief ….
- What is a Section S106 in Brief Terms?
- Checking out your sites Section S106.
- Mixed developments as a Model, and their exploitation.
- We are all victims of the planning system which monetise private leasehold and freehold estates with service charges.
- Councils using public funds to fund social housing on developments, and strap-cashed councils raking in hundreds of millions in S106 from developers only for buyers to be dumped on an management company over which they have no control.
- Scathing lack of accountability of and by councils over developers and the myriad two-way or more commercial partnerships.
- Sums of money handed over from the developer to the council for our estate. £140,000 in total. See what it was spent on.
- We want the situation resolved, with our private roads being adopted, as in our case the illusive estate freehold that should have been handed over to us 13 years ago.
- Other estates now waking up to this scandal. Join email@example.com. See their website. We can all contribute. Don’t be a bystander over the biggest investment of your life. You deserve better. Help raise awareness and residents stand together. Write to your MP.
At what point does the S106 cross the line from improving infrastructure to plugging the financial woes of a local authority?
10.13 Planning Obligations – such obligations under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) will continue to be used as a mechanism to make development proposals acceptable in planning terms, that would not otherwise be acceptable. Section 106 agreements will continue to be used to secure affordable housing, and on site public open space in residential development, ensure the development or use of land occurs in specific ways; and require specified operations or activities to be carried out.
For those of you that don’t know, Section S106 are agreements between local authorities and developers and are linked to planning obligations, were developers can be expected to make payments to councils to offset the impacts of developments on a local area.
Examples of obligations can be traffic calming / road improvements, enhancements of the local environment, replacement of local wildlife habitats, providing community / educational facilities, affordable housing, or local employment initiative.
For anyone wishing to see how much money was involved in the development of their own site, you can get this information from your own local authority, sometimes this may involve a small fee, but some councils provide this free if you know how to look.
I found reference to our site on the internet through a search engine, and applied this reference through our council’s website, but some references don’t fully match the specific format given. Some councils never make it easy. The Reference I found was slightly different N/01900/02/FUL but after speaking to a reporter he advised be to play around with the format of the numbers 2002/01900/PA which lead me to the right place. I knew that our development was based on the site of GPU Power UK, so I started my search there.
For around three years now I have been discovering what it means, having bought property on a new development 13 years ago. I firmly believe that we are not just victims of councils and developers, but a more insidious state of affairs.
Almost all developments now are mixed estates: a model required by local authorities that developers and housing associations in partnership/collaboration provide a mixture of both private and social housing, whether it be houses or flats.
These give ample scope for monetising through the management structure. Developments are designed to a model that MONETISES private estates, this includes ground rent from leasehold properties (whether flats or houses), private roads, private sewerage pumps, private parklands area, communal parking or other communal areas, in which residents get dumped on a management company they have no control, including rip-off estate charges.
My local authority is Birmingham City Council, which is one of the biggest authorities in England. It ought to be an authority serving the people who elect it. Instead, it preys upon our downfall for cash.
Estates like ours have received public funds, and the council with its many developments are raking in hundreds of millions in Section S106 agreements from developers – the developers’ contribution to local infrastructure which is impacted by the new housing.
But the councils through lack of oversight allow the developers to dump estates like ours with private roads and sewerages pumps on a management company or agent, where the charges are under no control.
The council received £120,000 and an extra £20,000 in Section 106s for our estate in which £120,000 was used for local park facilities and £10,000 was used for a relief road on the other side of the city.
We on the other hand were tied to a powerless Resident Management Company and dumped on a management agent by Lovell Partnerships Ltd our developer (who controls the freeholds that should have been transferred to us 13 years ago as specified in our legal documents), which eventually lead to Peverel, which became FirstPort. FirstPort is the largest property manager in the country.
Peverel belonged to the Tchenguiz Family Trust, based in the British Virgin Islands, until the (wrongful) arrest of Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz in March 2011. It now belongs to venture capitalists Electra and Chamonix. Its subsidiary Cirrus was the subject of an Office of Fair Trading ruling of collusive tendering in December 2014: foisting expensive door entry systems on retirement sites after a sham bidding process against stooge companies.
We seem to have come up with a flawed planning system that is setup in such a way as to turn a blind eye to a scandalous lack of accountability.
What is being done to ensure that sites are being built to adoptable standards, given the collaboration between councils and developers at the expense of the homebuyers who ultimately pay for upkeep of these sites?
What chance does any first time buyer have as a consumer, in a market that offers no protection whatsoever? Parts of the planning decision are held in private closed session because of either “politically” or “commercially sensitive information”.
It is understandable that it is commercially sensitive if the bill is going to be dumped on the homebuyers, but is it information that should be withheld from the public?
Selling out the people of Birmingham to developers will only raise the basic cost of living for everyone. Yes, “You and Your children who buy into these estates, if it isn’t hard enough for them to leave home now.”.
Public funds having been used to create these estates, with developers rubbing their hands and creating a feeding frenzy for property speculators who are queuing up to cash in on these lucrative entities that provide a legally enforceable income stream.
Cash strapped councils like Birmingham City Council are looking the other way and using developers as a S106 cash cow.
Unsuspecting first-time buyers don’t realise the complex legal implications and heartache that these monetised estates can cause. If someone is giving you large sums of money, you’re certainly not going to start putting obstacles it their way especially if they’re going to provide a constant source of revenue for cash strapped/money wasting councils.
When it comes to developers, councils are bending over backwards, but for the poor unfortunate green first-time buyers that have bought into these polished new estates, councils treat you like an untouchable.
I have letters from Birmingham City Council showing disinterest to our plight, stating “that we knew what we were doing when we bought our properties, and our roads do not meet adoptable criteria, also solicitors should have given the relevant information”. But that’s not going to wash anymore in an era of the leasehold scandals. Councils are just not interested in how developers dispose of their land other than the cash inducements? from developers, So this says to me there is absolutely no oversight of developers, bear in mind some of these developers also have or have had large contracts with Birmingham City Council. . Council’s knee deep in collaboration with developers will use any excuse to remove themselves from any moral responsibility.
I have asked the council on many occasions to offer a free quote to us to adopt our roads on a substandard basis. This was a possible option that one of the councillors put forward to us in a letter. But the council has back-tracked. We were actually invited to the council to go through all available options, but they made it seem like a mountain climb to put us off, they were going to try and look at some kind of mediation, we never heard anymore.
All we want is a free quote for sub-standard road adoption and the council compelled to help bring this about, should residents wish to pay for adoption. Councils should have a responsibility to help all the estates considering what is going on. Our roads could only be adopted in a substandard condition because they were designed and built too narrow with 52 properties crammed around them, which cause endless parking issues.
- We’re not the only estate to wake up. firstname.lastname@example.org are a group of residents elsewhere in the country that have formed an action group. Please join and help each other.
If you have bought into one of these estates, go and investigate your Section 106. Write to your MP, bang your drum, make a noise, and demand that your council adopt all the monetised areas on a substandard basis.
If enough of us stand up and rattle cages councils will have no option but to do the right thing and absorb this into existing council ownership/infrastructure. They should do something to mitigate what they have helped exacerbate. At the end of the day, we pay our council tax too.
Charges for our roads included, Reserves, Third Party Insurance, Terrorism Insurance , Electricity, Officers and Directors Insurance, Grounds Maintenance Fees, General Maintenance Fees, Pest Control, Management Fees, Bank Charges, Accountancy & Audit Fees, Legal & Professional Fees, Filing Fees, Company Secretarial Fees, Health and Safety Fee. (2013 was £3200 approx), (2015 was £6000 approx) (2017/18 is £6900). Where does it end?
Release from these roads into public ownership would solved one of the biggest obstacles for all our estates, wouldn’t even mind paying a bit more in council tax.