One thing is absolutely clear – Great Park residents are fed up of the way the developers treat them. It starts with undelivered promises of facilities in the sales office, includes glossing over the serious liabilities taken on when purchasing homes with a rent charge, and moves on to failure to acknowledge or repair defects in homes, running up excessive costs to the management companies and failure to answer residents’ legitimate concerns.
The informal Great Park Action Group have crowd funded to pay for a local specialist solicitor’s advice on potential actions. There will be a fee for the time spent examining documentary evidence.
The GPNA have been talking to HorNet lawyers, Edwin Coe in London who are looking at a crowd funded no win no fee model and who are currently favouring asking the courts to rule on a declaration which would be a set of rules agreed by both parties. This is based on documentary evidence already submitted. Their thinking in this respect is that there will, like it or not, be a continuing relationship between residents and the consortium of developers and this action should lay down some ground rules for accountability, rights and future behaviour. Residents have expressed doubts about this being effective as they don’t think the builders will stick to the rules. We will feed this back and ask for further clarification.
It became clear at the GPAG meeting that there was a need to ask residents what outcome they would like from any action, so we will be devising a survey as soon as we have clarified what all the potential outcomes may be.
All this is within the context of national pressure groups lobbying government for at least a regulatory framework and right of redress for estate charges. The current government have promised reform but we do not know its extent or its effectivenes. In the meantime opposition MP Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) has tabled a ten minute rule bill to cap and regulate estate charges, with support from our own MP Catherine McKinnell. The second reading has been delayed because of lack of time due to Brexit debates. We would encourage everyone concerned about how estate charges are being implemented to drop Catherine a line supporting her and encouraging her to do as much as she can to aid reform of the law.