Once upon a time there was a new town to the East of Exeter called Cranbrook (not to be confused with the – now smaller – town in Kent).
Here they thought they paid council tax for public services – as indeed, they do. But, watch out, they don’t cover the services still provided by the developers. Every Cranbrook home gets landed with ‘estate rent charges’ of somewhere between £300 and £500 per year. ‘East Devon Watch’ explains:
Every household in Cranbrook entered into a private contract with their developer agreeing the annual payment of the estate rent charge at the time of purchasing their homes. Housing association tenants pay the contribution via their rents. The charge is in addition to the council tax.
The estate rent charge covers the maintenance of communal areas in Cranbrook before those are transferred from private into public ownership, including the management of the Country Park, road maintenance, litter picking, bin emptying, maintenance of play parks and street lighting.
And you thought this was what council tax was for?
Did they build Welwyn Garden City or Stevenage this way? Of course not. Those were more enlightened times.
Deception and slight of hand is meat and drink to today’s developers and our dereliction of a government allows this private rent extraction to be legal.
That is why the Police can take no action against boy racers using some of the Cranbrook roads for speedway practice – in spite of being lit and with public access, they are still, it seems, in private ownership and so without any speed limit.
The Sunday Times (paywall) quotes an East Devon Council official as considering that this is the way that all new developments will be required to work in future. Both the boy racers and the developers must be rubbing their hands with glee…
This new way for new towns is demonstrative of our currrent system:- big on finance and small on life.
Oh, and if a home there still appeals, there is a district heating arrangement which ties you to one operator for the next 80 years.
Energy for life, no less.