Crown Estates rented home? Beware – it could be sold from under you

Be warned, Axminster.

“Scores of complaints have been made about rented properties on royal land and tenants have faced more than 100 evictions, a Guardian investigation has found, prompting anger over how the Queen’s £14bn property portfolio is managed.

The crown estate, which helps bankroll the Queen by giving the monarch 25% of its profits, has sought to evict 113 tenants in the past five years so they can sell their homes for profit.

It comes after it has emerged on Tuesday that the taxpayer has footed a £2.4m bill to renovate Frogmore Cottage, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official residence, according to royal accounts. While the royals have no direct oversight role in crown estate’s dealings, Prince William and Prince Charles have both spoken before about the importance of ensuring good quality housing is available for all.

Figures obtained by the Guardian show that the crown estate has received more than 100 complaints about its residential properties in just two years, including grievances over rent hikes, leaks, delays in repairs and faulty electrical goods. …

An investigation using data obtained through Freedom of Information laws reveals that:

The crown estate has made £1.1bn selling off more than 700 residential and commercial properties since 2014, with one private firm subsequently hiking rent well above inflation.

More than a quarter of a million pounds has been banked by the crown estate in housing benefit from just seven hard-up tenants.

Four tenants have sued the crown estate for breach of contract, including one claim worth half a million pounds. …

Prince Charles has also spoken out in the past in favour of affordable housing for low-paid workers. In 2003, he said in a speech that “the lack of affordable rural housing is one of the most important issues facing the countryside”. …

The crown estate issued 113 “notices to quit” to residential tenants from 2014 to 2018, including 97 in rural properties, nine in Windsor and seven in central London.

Other figures also reveal that the crown estate gained more than a quarter of a million pounds in housing benefit from just seven tenants. People renting in Camden, Runnymede and Windsor and Maidenhead have let property on royal land using housing benefit paid directly to the crown estate.

Since 2014, £253,092 has been paid to the crown estate in housing benefit. The majority of the payments were for five tenants in Camden, north London. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/30/crown-estate-faces-tenants-anger-over-rent-hikes-evictions-and-repair-delays?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Want to object (or support) plans for Axminster? Tough luck!

“I have now heard from 3 separate people that the EDDC Planning Website is not functioning properly and that submissions in objection to the planning applications can not be processed. I have asked EDDC Planning / IT to investigate immediately.

In the meantime, you can however submit by email to

planningeast@eastdevon.gov.uk or to

planningmajorprojects@eastdevon.gov.uk

And they will be treated as legitimate comments and uploaded to the website and considered by the planning department accordingly.

Best wishes.
Cllr. Paul Hayward.

Axminster Masterplan “consultation ” this Friday 8 February

The Crown Estate is holding a public consultation event from

2pm to 8pm

on

Friday (February 8)

at Millwey Community Centre,

to seek residents’ input on its proposals for land east of Axminster.

The Crown Estate’s site forms part of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Masterplan for the area, approved last week by councillors, for up to 850 homes, employment space and community uses as well as green space and a relief road.

The Crown Estate’s application would look to provide 441 homes – 25 per cent of which would be affordable – the central section of the proposed relief road, as well as space for new offices, shops and community facilities.

The event is an opportunity for local people to hear more about the plans and share their thoughts, ahead of a planning application being submitted to EDDC later this year.

Steve Melligan, strategic land portfolio manager for The Crown Estate, said: “Our proposals will help deliver a significant part of the new relief road for Axminster, as well as new homes and employment space for the area. We’re excited to present our plans to the community and look forward to hearing their views.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/plans-unveiled-at-millwey-community-centre-1-5879374

Strategic Planning pitfalls? Certainly for Axminster

A reporter … reports:

“At Tuesday’s Strategic Planning Meeting at Knowle (29 /01/2019), chaired by Paul Diviani, the masterplan for increasing Housing in Axminster by a whopping 30% , was voted through almost unanimously (there was one abstention), despite serious cross-Party criticism of the plan.

As the debate ended, the considerable number of Axminster residents in the public gallery were astonished to hear the Chair’s quip, to Cllr Jill Elson, “ I felt confident that you would come out with something that would stir things up”.

Cllr Elson (shown on right of the photo, beside Cllr Philip Skinner), had argued firmly that “the problem with plans is that they change” , citing her Ward as an example.

“Exmouth ended up with two huge estates with no play space or amenities whatsoever”, she said. Cllr Mike Howe (Con) shared her concerns, saying, (the masterplan) “doesn’t give us much credence or security that we will get the right houses”. But the Deputy Leader of the Council, Philip Skinner (Con ), expressed his view that “Give and take is needed in negotiations with a developer”.

Shortly afterwards, when Cllr Geoff Jung (East Devon Alliance, EDA) observed that the plan might not suit young families, it became apparent that Cllr Skinner was not aware that the proposal to include a primary school had been dropped.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance (Lib Dem) had noticed significant typing and other errors in the masterplan document. Cllr Rob Longhurst (Independent) observed there was no mention of the words ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ in the document.. although Cllr Moulding had told the meeting that he had designed one for Axminster… and suggested this Strategic Plan Committee would like to see “if the community wants and needs” the masterplan.

Cllr Susie Bond (Independent) asked for clarity about the legal implications for the Council if the costs for the relief road “went through the roof” (So far, EDDC has agreed to borrow £7m to ensure the road, estimated cost £16.7m, can be delivered.)

Ian Hall (Con) admitted “this masterplan doesn’t sit easily with the residents of Axminster”, which Alistair Ferguson’s speech in Public Question Time, confirms. The text is reproduced below, with Mr Ferguson’s permission):

In support of the objections, other District Councillors, Cathy Gardner and Marianne Rixson (both EDA), also attended the meeting, though not on the Strategic Planning Committee themselves.

Cllr Gardner pointed out that agreeing to a massive increase in the town’s housing numbers “would not be for the right reasons”, if it was done primarily to fund a relief road. The masterplan “was being done to the people of Axminster, not for them”, she said.

And Cllr Marianne Rixson added that “delivery of affordables does not have a good record” in East Devon.

Having listened to the comments aired, Cllr Geoff Pook (Ind) cautioned the committee not to be “persuaded by the opposition”. “There are just as many people in favour”, he opined.

Finally, the fear that the time-limited government funding for the relief road would be missed, therefore putting in jeopardy the 650 homes allocated in the Local Plan, swayed the committee members to approve the masterplan, albeit with caveats based on their misgivings.

Is this how the wrong sort of housing so often gets built in the wrong place?

In Axminster’s case, how much will the masterplan impact on the historic former deer park? As Cllr Mike Howe, Chair of the Development Management Committee (DMC) told yesterday’s meeting, there’s an urgent need to know….’

EDDC agrees Axminster masterplan with 200 extra houses (now 850)

Persimmon and Crown Estates say they won’t be able to afford to build a relief road unless they build 850 houses rather than the original 650.

So EDDC majority rolled over to have their tummies tickled … and agreed.

Do try to remember this if the developers say they got their sums wrong and will need to build hundreds more …. or no road at all.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-46947635