Shepton Mallet (Phase 7) Residents Association
The properties in Phase 7.
The Green Shaded Areas are those common areas maintained by Chamonix
The Blue Shaded Area is maintained by Thorner Homes
Residents in Shepton Mallet’s Tadley Acres estate have won a two-year fight to remove Bloor Homes from control of their estate management company and appoint their own resident directors.
The estate management company was set up in 2014 as a condition of planning consent by Mendip District Council. It not only manages the community spaces in Phase 7 - open spaces, grass, and parking areas - but is also responsible for charging residents for the costs, and for maintaining standards and covenants.
Bloor Homes appointed the sole director when the company was formed. All owners of Phase 7 properties were required to be members of the company and to pay potentially unlimited costs.
The developer should have stood down in 2018 after the final property had been sold. However, Bloor refused to give up control, and without resident directors, there was no cap on residents’ bills and no effective scrutiny of standards or contracts. Bloor had appointed Chamonix Estates as ‘Agent’ but allowed them to run the company, giving Chamonix power to set both the fees and the standards. It was a classic ‘Fleecehold’ situation.
So in July 2019, a group of residents formed a residents' association and began to fight for control of their company.
Because Mendip District and Shepton Town Councillors continued to reject requests for help, the only way forward was to seek legal advice. Local Solicitors Chubb Bulleid stepped in to offer valuable assistance. With legal support, the residents’ group contacted every property owner in Phase 7 and forced Bloor Homes to call a Company Meeting at which residents put forward a resolution to appoint their own directors.
Local resident Eve Swallow, who started the campaign, said: ‘Despite the lack of help from Councillors, we won the vote, the Bloor director stood down, and five local residents were appointed as directors. We now have control of our estate management company.’
Now that residents in Phase 7 have gained control, standards can be properly monitored, local contractors can be appointed, and best value contracts can be put in place. The group are encouraging the rest of the Tadley Acres Estate to establish a full estate Residents Association to improve the maintenance of all the green spaces currently managed by the Council.
We are all members of one community, and together we can have a stronger voice to protect our common interests
As members of one community, we have the right to 'quiet enjoyment' of our homes. Together, we can exercise those rights.
We pay our management company to care for the common areas of our estate. Together, we can ensure we are getting best value.
We are all affected by Planning, Traffic, Licencing, Noise, Maintenance Costs. Together, we can voice our concerns.
Since our election as resident directors in September last year, we have started the process of examining levels of service and costs from FirstPort (previously Chamonix Estates). Together with the Residents Association Committee, we have met on site with the Regional and Area Managers to review the work and identify any rectification needed.
Local Contractors. FirstPort have agreed to us putting forward local contractors for the next budget round (2022-23). This is something that a number of residents have asked for, and something that we fully support, as it will provide local employment and enable much closer scrutiny of work.
Community Garden. We identified land behind 25 Clarks Meadow, adjacent to the visitors’ car park and open green space, as being in need of work. It was originally going to be an orchard, but has been allowed to degenerate into waste space. To avoid additional costs, we want to open this piece of land to residents to turn into a communal space. It could be planted as a communal garden, an orchard, or allowed to be re-wilded. We plan to hold an open meeting in the Spring for anyone interested in bringing a fork and spade to this bit of land.
Service agreement. Following the site meeting, Directors and FirstPort area and regional managers discussed working arrangements. Following this meeting, a draft Management Agency Agreement with FirstPort was discussed this week, and a number of issues were identified for further discussion.
Costs. We approached two local estate management agents for costings, and both were roughly comparable to those provided by FirstPort. We believe that changing from FirstPort to another company at this point would be unduly disruptive without gaining substantially on either costs or service levels. Provided that other issues can be resolved we therefore propose to work with FirstPort for one year’s budget round, during which time we can assess the service provided and review at the end of this period.
Maintenance Schedules. We plan to meet with FirstPort to go over their contractors’ service schedule and see where it can be simplified or given a better fit for our needs. Grass cutting, ground improvement, and hedges are high on our priority list.
Property Transfer Services. We have already expressed concerns to FirstPort about both costs and the poor service experienced by residents when buying or selling their homes, and have asked for a meeting to establish a binding service level agreement for property transfers.
We welcome input and comment from all residents in Phase 7, and will send updates to members of the Phase 7 Residents Association. Membership is only £5 p.a. and residents can sign up for membership on our website – http://sm7ra.com/. Click or tap to follow the link." data-linkindex="0" style="-webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(17, 85, 204);">sm7ra.com. We will also put this update on the SM7RA.com website for those who are not members of the association.
Please note: Some Residents Association subscriptions for 2022 are overdue for payment. If you have not renewed your subscription and wish to continue as a member of the Residents' Association and receive updates, please renew as soon as possible.
Richard Thomas (Chair)Sally Lever (Secretary)