Swire says developers “gamed” Cranbrook to its detriment and Neighbourhood Plans aren’t working!

He says developers refused to create a town centre because there weren’t enough people living there! He says the council is now having to step in to rectify this!

Owl thinks that perhaps there are not enough people living there (question: how many is enough?) because there is no town centre!

Car insurance problems at Cranbrook? Cranbrook Herald asks for information

“Cranbrook Herald

“What’s been your experience of getting car insurance in Cranbrook?

Has it been easy, with no problems and affordable premiums, or has it been difficult, with high premiums to pay?

Tell us your stories – good and bad.

Please email Cranbrook Herald reporter Paul Strange at paul.strange@archant.co.uk
with your views.
Please include your contact details.”

Cranbrook problems continue

According to this month’s Cranbrook Herald:

People are up in arms about the estate rent charges, already extensively reported by Owl.

Town councillors say young people are consuming too many energy drinks and, as a result, are “off the wall” on caffeine.  They are pressurising the Co-op to put a lower age limit on purchase of the drinks.

Cranbrook will have its own district councillors in elections in May 2019 – three of them – perhaps they will be able to plead their case to EDDC..

Residents worry about the visual impact of extending Cranbrook to the south as well as to the north.

http://www.cranbrookherald.com/home

Cranbrook Herald reports on estate rent charges

Owl broke this story on 2January:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/01/02/cranbrook-residents-very-unhappy-about-estate-rent-charge-bills/

Now Cranbrook Herald has taken it up:

“The unexpected demand for payment caused uproar on social media, distressing many during the festive break.

One resident said the company which sent the letter was using ‘scare-mongering tactics’.

Another said the matter was a ‘disgrace’.

The estate and asset management company Blenheims sent the bill on behalf of the Cranbrook Consortium and FPCR (which provides the town’s landscape and horicultural services).

In the letter – delivered to all Cranbrook households on Friday, December 22 – Blenheims explained that the annual Estate Rent Charge (ERC), which meets the cost of maintaining the public open spaces and amenity areas had been reviewed.

Previously set at £150 per annum – based on an ‘historic and initial assessment of the annual costs’ – the Consortium had increased the ERC to £231.76, to reflect actual accounting figures. These suggested that the total costs of the 2017-18 ERC were £370,816. Split between 1,600 properties, this came to £231.76 per household.

In many cases, the £231.76 demand was reduced to £194.26, taking into account an initial quarterly ERC instalment paid by residents of £37.50.

The letter implied that the £194.26 needed to be paid in one sum. There was also confusion about when the money needed to be paid, with some residents believing it had to be within 10 working days.

There was no suggestion of being able to pay in instalments (although Blenheims has since said that there are three payment dates – January 22, February 1 and March 1).

Having received their bills, Cranbrook residents found Blenheims had shut for Christmas, and initially there was no one available to discuss the issue.

At the request of Cranbrook Town Council (CTC), the Reverend Lythan Nevard – Cranbrook’s minister and a Belonging to Cranbrook Facebook moderator – offered advice for residents, posting her thoughts on social media.

On January 2, CTC posted its own advice on its website, describing the timing of the letter as ‘unfortunate’, and Blenheims has since issued a ‘frequently asked questions’ (FAQ) document.

“I think the timing of the Blenheims’ letter was poor at best,” said a Cranbrook resident, who did not wish to be named. “Some people were concerned that if they just cancelled their direct debits, they would end up with bailiffs at their door after Christmas.”

“It was a disgrace to receive a letter demanding payment of £231.76 within ten days, and especially at this time of the year,” said another resident.

In its FAQ to residents, Blenheims said the payment demand was issued on December 22 in advance of the next collection date, December 25, and was ‘in accordance’ with residents’ ERC deed.

It also issued advice for those that had cancelled their direct debit or hadn’t returned their mandate and explained why the ERC was being increased and why residents – who are already paying council tax – were being charged for ERC.

Neither Blenheims nor the Consortium have provided the Herald with further comment on this matter.

CTC is currently finalising details of taking over the town’s ERC. If draft agreements are approved, from April 6, 2018, the ERC will be paid as part of EDDC’s council tax, with any increase in the element of the council tax payable to CTC.”

http://www.cranbrookherald.com/news/cranbrook-estate-rent-charge-1-5349929

Cranbrook estate rent charges 2

(See post below also)

From a correspondent:

Wain Homes (55 properties) and Cavanna Homes (19 properties) have their own Estate Rent Charge which will remain in place but they will pay the higher CTC precept

The Town Council had indicated a willingness in principle to take on the public open space on both sites. Wain Homes remain subject to enforcement because of failure to complete the public open space and we met with them in the summer of 2017 to discuss this.

If they complete the work CTC could adopt the public open space. Hopefully local residents on the site will press Wain Homes to do this.

Cavanna have passed their public open space to a management company but undertook to have talks to have the public open space transferred back so that CTC could adopt it. In both cases the ball is in the developers’ court.”

Cranbrook residents very unhappy about estate rent charge bills

Basically a total mess with large annual bills hitting residents just before Christmas. Many residents dispute work and charges.

And this is interesting:

Double charging because residents pay the full East Devon District Council council tax

EDDC has consistently taken the line that it will not take on responsibility for anything other than its statutory responsibilities and this is not unique to Cranbrook but affecting all other new major developments.
On the face of it this is unfair – Cranbrook residents contribute to all public open space owned by EDDC but the reverse is not the case.

This is why the Town Council is seeking to take on these responsibilities to provide best value for residents of the Town.

It is for EDDC to respond to this point.”

https://www.cranbrooktowncouncil.gov.uk/town-councils-response-statement-re-estate-rent-charge-letters

“Angry homebuyers plan class-action lawsuit against Bovis”

One of the examples cited in the article is from Cranbrook. See last paragraph of this post. Though most problems in this area seem to centre on Axminster.

Bovis Homes, one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, faces a potential class-action lawsuit from a group of buyers who accuse it of selling houses riddled with defects.

Puneet Verma bought a five-bedroom house with his wife for £485,000 in Milton Keynes two years ago but says he still has a list of 120 snags. He is now consulting two law firms, Leigh Day and Slater & Gordon, about taking group action.

“I have had a survey done by a chartered surveyor that categorically states the workmanship is extremely poor and that Bovis is not in compliance with building regulations,” Verma says. “Bovis has treated, and continues to treat, its customers appallingly and now the only way to get our problems resolved is to take legal action.”

Verma is aiming to raise a £100,000 fund through a £100 contribution per homeowner, assuming 1,000 of the 2,500-strong Bovis Homes Victims group on Facebook sign up.

It has been almost a year since the housebuilder issued a profit warning and was accused of paying thousands of pounds in cash incentives to get buyers to move into unfinished homes. As the scandal widened, the company set aside £7m to fix defects and appointed a new chief executive.

A year on, some Bovis homeowners say they will be spending Christmas in houses that are riddled with faults, including leaks, moving and creaking floors, lack of insulation and sewage backups, as well coping with shoddy workmanship.

Ian Tyler, the chairman of Bovis, apologised to buyers in May for “letting them down” and admitted the firm had been cutting corners to hit ambitious targets. The company says it slowed production to iron out build problems, retrained sales staff and set up an advisory homebuyers panel, which has met once.

Dave Howard, who set up the Facebook group with his wife, Ann, and who sits on the panel, doubts whether Bovis has made any progress on improving build standards and customer service. He claims homeowners who report problems are being referred to the National House Building Council (NHBC), the standard-setting body and main home construction warranty provider for new-builds in the UK. But in the first two years after purchase the housebuilder is responsible for rectifying defects.

“We have had constructive contact with the new customer experience director, but there are too many people hitting brick walls with Bovis and NHBC,” Howard says. “Some new customers have had better experiences but that seems to have slipped too.”

Bovis says: “We have made significant changes to how we operate in 2017 and a growing majority of our customers would now recommend us to family and friends.

“We remain determined to make things right for customers who raise warranty items and apologise to those to whom we have not previously delivered the high levels of quality and service they rightly expected.” …”

[The article concludes with several examples of bad workmanship in various parts of the country including this one] …

Pete Oldham and his wife, a retired couple, bought a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Cranbrook, Devon, for £234,995 in December 2015. “All the floors move,” Oldham says. “When you walk into a room the furniture moves. They haven’t fitted things properly but are in denial.” He says the floor joists should be 400mm apart, not 600mm. There has been a breakdown in communication with Bovis and he has been referred to NHBC.”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/09/bovis-homebuyers-class-action-lawsuit-property-defects