South Somerset District Council has recently launched its own private company, Elleston, to provide maintenance services on privately owned estates. They justify this on the grounds of better quality and value for money together with an income for the council in terms of a projected £2.2M over two years. Talk about adding insult to injury for home owners! Councils aid the creation of privately owned estates during planning – they definitely could do more to discourage developers from implementing it, and they refuse to countenance compensating the estate dwellers for their total funding of the maintenance of designated public open space. No wonder residents are hopping mad!
The Council’s Portfolio Holder Cllr John Clark said: “When new estates are built, developers have a choice of seeking adoption of the common public areas by the council or retaining ownership and utilising a private maintenance company. With many developers now choosing to take the private maintenance company route and charging residents for the costs, Elleston will utilise our skilled workforce and good practice to ensure that an excellent level of work is carried out.
“The council cannot use public money to maintain private land, therefore Elleston is simply meeting the market need. Due to laws around trading the council is required to set up a separate company to carry out this kind of work and by setting up Elleston it is hoped that developers and residents will receive a better quality service than otherwise might be available.”
HorNet fully endorse what Leasehold Knowledge Partnership have written in their article, and agree that developers are creating a new asset class of the private estate. The point they and everyone else seems to miss is the sub standard construction of estate grounds leading to more expensive maintenance, un-remedied liabilities and long term blighted estates. We believe the cost saving on construction is a major driver for the developers in promoting this model to councils at the planning stage. It is common knowledge that the major developers construct houses with their eye on profit margins rather than quality, so why would they treat the unadopted land around the houses any differently?