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Management fees at Marham Park housing development highlighted by couple

A couple who hoped to move to Bury St Edmunds have highlighted the existence of management fees imposed at some housing developments.

Marham Park development, off Mildenhall Road Bury st Edmunds Picture Mark Westley. (2411580)
Marham Park development, off Mildenhall Road Bury st Edmunds Picture Mark Westley. (2411580)

Peter and Alison Punchard put their Fowlmere home on the market after falling in love with a new-build property at Marham Park estate, which will eventually house 900 homes built by developers Bloor Homes, Countryside and David Wilson Homes.

The retired couple want to move to Bury to be nearer family and, following conversations with the sales team, hoped to be in a position to reserve a Bloor home – the developer insists buyers must have accepted an offer on their own house before paying a £1,000 reservation fee.

It was only after looking at a different new development in Kentford they saw those homes were ‘freehold subject to management charge’ and asked Bloor if anything similar applied at Marham Park. They were stunned to discover it did, with the annual fee for maintenance of the estate’s public open spaces and playgrounds standing at £186.

Alison said: “I felt a bit cross, because there was nothing in the brochures to suggest this. I emailed Bloor and expressed my displeasure that this wasn’t explained when we inquired. They said they go through it at reservation, but by then you have sold your house.”

The couple are also concerned there is a lack of protection for homeowners, with management firms able to increase fees in future.

“What happens when Bloor has finished the development? What safeguards are there? There is no guarantee charges won’t increase in the future," said Alison. “We’re retired and on a fixed income and can’t afford for our bills to change. We are very disinclined to move to Marham Park as a result."

A Bloor spokeswoman said: "It has been brought to our attention that the details of the management fees at our Marham Park development are not immediately clear on the sales literature for the development. We are now taking steps to rectify this."

She added that each homeowner was buying a freehold property and would become a shareholder in the management company, whose duty it was to manage the estate, and that the fees could only increase by a maximum of five per cent per year.

Halima Ali, of campaign group HorNet (Homeowners Rights Network), said: "The case study you have given is typical of the stories we are hearing from our members.

"It is a scam which is taking place on a national scale and many homeowners are discovering after it is too late that these developers have found a pretty colourful way to make money of hard-working families.

"Homeowners who are buying these new build homes are discovering that the management company who they are paying to maintain these public open spaces are not accountable to them and freeholders have no right to manage

"We at Homeowners Rights Network are campaigning for better legislation and the only practical and fair way to resolve this matter is if central government legislates that councils should be required by law to adopt these public open spaces."

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