“Cranbrook’s estate rent charge – currently around £150 per year per household – may be scrapped if plans by Cranbrook Town Council (CTC) go ahead.
If approved, the annual charge – for the management of Cranbrook’s public spaces, including play areas and the Country Park – would be replaced next April by an increase in CTC’s element of the East Devon District Council (EDDC) council tax bill.
But the increase won’t be a flat rate.
It would be a banded charge, depending on the rateable value of a property.
However, CTC believes its proposal will save people money. The council says that ‘considerable’ savings would be achieved by ‘cutting out’ expensive collection, legal and administration costs, removing management layers and being able to negotiate maintenance contracts.
In addition, all households in Cranbrook would contribute towards the maintenance of facilities within the town’s boundaries, whereas at present the estate rent charge is limited to those who purchase homes from the main consortium of developers.
“This is a significant step for the town,” said Cllr Kevin Blakey, CTC’s chairman. “The estate rent charge has been a continual source of concern for residents with the threat that the management company may seek to collect substantial back-payments and also raise charges without any apparent checks and balances.
“Some residents may feel this change is unfair, but based on the savings which the town council can make and the fact that we feel that it is fairer for all households to contribute to the maintenance of public amenities and facilities, we believe this is the right thing to do.
“It also provides an opportunity for those less able to pay to apply the current arrangements for council tax relief.
The developers and CTC are keen to reach an agreement.
Cllr Kevin Blakey said: “Both parties are working on the basis that the agreement would provide a clean break between the current estate rent charge position and the future. The town council wants to take control of the estate rent charge, once and for all.”
CTC has issued a Q&A sheet at: http://www.cranbrooktowncouncil.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/170908-ERC-Press-Release-QA.pdf