Neighbours in Whittle-le-Woods have banded together to buy the full rights to their properties and take on the responsibility for looking after their area.
It means that the cost of maintaining the public space around Whittle Hills Close in Whittle-le-Woods has more than halved for householders.
In the light of the scandal over leasehold agreements which hit national headlines last year Mike Hoole and his neighbours decided to take matters into their own hands.
“We got together and bought the land and freeholds from the developer WainHomes,” said Mike. “We then issued every household with one share so each household owns one thirteenth of the land and freehold.”
But Mike and his neighbours did not stop there. They then also approached management company RMG, which oversaw maintenance of Whittle Hills Close and also manages the Buckshaw Village development.
“We didn’t consider that we were getting value for money from RMG,” said Mike, who is a director of Whittle Hills Close Residents Association Limited (WHCRAL). “So we informed them that we wanted to terminate the contract. It was very very difficult but eventually we formed our own residents association - the Whittle Hills Close Residents Association and Mike is president.
“So now we are in total control. Through WHCRAL we manage the close ourselves taking care of our own street lighting, insurance and maintenance.
“Our bill is less than half of what it was with RMG.
“The 2017 RMG £299.61 service charge which we rejected was replaced with the WHCRA service charge of £120.00, a saving of £179.61 per household. This paid off the unexpected final RMG charge , funded our first street party, which was a big success and we were still able to increase the reserve fund by £277.00.”
Whittle Hills Close in Whittle-le-Woods is made up of 13 properties. Before residents bought the freeholds on the leasehold properties there were 11 leaseholds and two freeholds.
Pleased with their initiative residents arranged their own street party to celebrate their success. Now residents living in Whittle Hills Close are planning their second street party and they are enjoying having more direct control over how the money is spent.
Mike said: “To ensure the 2018 party is another success we increased the 2018 service charge to £180.00 to enable us to buy all weather protection such as gazebos, new bunting, children’s presents and also improve our Neighbourhood Watch 2018 programme. We are in charge of our own expenditure and the service charge will be set to meet our own community agreed demands.”
Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “As reported by the Chorley Guardian a number of times there are ongoing issues all across Chorley regarding lease holders and free holders.
“My constituency office has been dealing with a range of problems and concerns such as permission fees, ground rents and service charges.
“It is good to see that in this case the residents have taken their right to manage and can now ensure that they receive not only value for money but a service that meets the needs of their particular area.”
This year’s street party at Whittle Hills Close takes place on June 30.