Taylor Wimpey compensation offer is PR con

Taylor Wimpey compensation offer is PR con, claim victims of leasehold scandal | Money | The Guardian

Taylor Wimpey compensation offer is PR con, claim victims of leasehold scandal

Jo Darbyshire outside her now almost unsaleable new-build Bolton home.

Jo Darbyshire outside her now almost unsaleable new-build home in Bolton. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd for the Guardian

Taylor Wimpey last month offered £130m to buyers trapped in new-build homes with spiralling ground rent contracts. It was a move initially greeted with glee by victims of the leasehold scandal. But as details have emerged, some householders say they will still be left paying “frankly obscene” charges.

Jo Darbyshire bought her four-bed home in Bolton in 2010 from Taylor Wimpey without realising the full implications of the 999-year leasehold contract, which allowed the freeholder to double the £295 ground rent every 10 years. Only when a neighbour’s house sale fell through – because a mortgage company rejected the ground rent clause – did Darbyshire discover her home had been rendered potentially unsaleable.

When she inquired about buying the freehold, things went from bad to worse. Without her knowledge, Taylor Wimpey had sold the freehold to Adriatic Land at a price understood to be £7,375 for each of the 24 homes on the estate. Neighbours who have since tried to buy the freehold say they have been met with demands of £45,000-£50,000 – a huge amount compared to the £200,000 that some of the smaller homes on the estate currently fetch.

The ground rent company also demands £100 from householders who request a quote to buy the freehold. They also require that any householder wanting to make alterations – such as building a small extension – also pay a fee. “A neighbour wanted to build a small extension and was quoted £3,000 before a brick was laid,” says Darbyshire.

But Taylor Wimpey’s compensation offer has left her deeply frustrated. It offered a “deed of variation … specifically incorporating materially less expensive ground rent review terms”. It is understood the deal will involve the ground rent rising in line with inflation rather than doubling every decade.

Darbyshire says it still leaves her in the clutches of a ground rent company and what she alleges are its “exorbitant charges”. In an open letter to Taylor Wimpey chief executive, Peter Redfern, Darbyshire says: “You seem to believe the only wrongdoing is the introduction of doubling ground rents. The real scandal is the onward sale of ALL freeholds … to investment companies, and the consequences to us … Did you know that, once the freeholds were sold on, that Adriatic would introduce exorbitant charges for alterations and increase the cost of buying the freehold significantly?”

Darbyshire says Taylor Wimpey should be offering homebuyers the chance to buy the freehold at the price originally offered when the estate was built. Her letter adds: “The only acceptable way forwards is for you to reinstate me to the position I would have been in had your sales people, and the solicitor you recommend I use, informed me fully at the point of sale, when I would have purchased my freehold for £5,900.”

Darbyshire is not alone. Sean Greenwood, who Guardian Money featured last November when we first revealed the extent of the ground rent scandal, says the construction giant should refund the £101,000 cost of the apartment his wife bought in Gornal on the edge of Dudley. We highlighted how one apartment had received a “nil valuation” from a mortgage company because of the doubling ground rents.

Greenwood has also written to Redfern, saying: “My wife would still like a full refund. Unfortunately, your most recent offer to change the ground rent review to RPI is unacceptable. We are worried our freeholder maintains the position of power in all negotiations relating to our freehold.

“We are also not willing to wait for the time period it will take to complete the change in the deed. We have been trying to sell for over a year and a combination of the doubling ground rent lease and the collapse of the wall in our car park has meant we cannot sell.”

More than 4,000 people have joined a Facebook group, the National Leasehold Campaign, to protest over ground rent issues and excessive charges, with complaints directed not just at Taylor Wimpey but at other major developers, including Persimmon and Bellway.

Last week, Nationwide told the construction giants it would no longer offer mortgages on new-build properties with short leases or, crucially, where the ground rent is more than 0.1% of the value of the home.

In a statement, Redfern said: “This is about doing what we think is right. We recognise the concerns and difficulties that some of our customers have faced as a result of their doubling leases and we are sorry for the worry this has caused. Although we are under no legal obligation to take action, we want to help our customers.

“We are working hard with the freeholders to convert our customers’ doubling leases to ones that are significantly less expensive … and which resolve concerns around how easy it is to sell or get a mortgage. Taylor Wimpey will cover the cost of converting the leases.

“These leases were put in place between 2007 and 2011 at a time when economic conditions were very different. We stopped using them on sites commenced after 2011.”

The company makes clear that the £130m should not be viewed as compensation, as the sale of the leases was legal, and that it has not been obliged to take action. It suggests that the aim of its Ground Rent Review Assistance Scheme is to address saleability and mortgageability rather than pay compensation.

Leeds Housing Survey: Do YOU need a home?

Please read this article and complete the Leeds City Council Survey form


We previously advised that Leeds City Council (LCC) were to embark on a Strategic Housing Market Assessment and that an important element of this was a Housing Needs Survey.  Some  people in Aireborough will have received a postal survey, but the majority will not.  However, the Council is fully aware that the response rate to surveys is generally not very good and as a result has placed the survey on-line for ALL residents to be able to respond.  The survey is now on-line and can be found here.   Therefore, all Aireborough residents are strongly urged to complete the survey and you never know, by completing the survey you may win a prize, alternatively, a significant return will equate to an accurate figure of housing need and may well influence the LCC in reducing its 70,000 housing target.

PS  there is an ID box and postcode box at the start of the survey, but you only need to fill in your postcode.

“Allotment Planning Application Alert”

This organisation strongly supports the actions of Silverdale Action Group to protect this historic site


Residents are fighting to preserve the historic “wellbeing legacy” allotment site in the middle of Silverdale Estate in Guiseley. Silverdale Allotments were bought by the Park Gate Allotment Society in 1921 from local philanthropist Jonathan Peate as part of a self-help movement to improve the health of the nation post World War One. Now developer Stonebridge Homes have submitted a planning application for 46 houses on the majority of the allotments, at the behest of some of the allotment owners; well before the future of this and other green sites in Aireborough are decided by a Planning Inspector at public hearings.

Roger Davis said “Our allotment has been in our family for nearly 60 years; over the years, some of the surrounding allotments have been bought by people wanting to build on the land and they’ve left the land derelict, rather than let them be tended. In the past, there was a thriving community with people growing vegetables, keeping pigeons, chickens and even pigs! We are very worried for the future of our smallholding if the development goes ahead, along with the problem it is likely to cause with flooding in nearby gardens – the land hereabouts is very wet, and many neighbours already have pumps to cope with water in their garden”

The Silverdale Allotments, which are approaching the centenary of their optimistic post WW1 inauguration, were cleared of vegetation by Stonebridge in 2015 and surrounded by steel fencing in preparation for a planning application; much to the dismay of local residents. The surrounding area, including, Roger’s smallholding, has since experienced exacerbated flooding, despite a relatively dry winter. Roger says “it is heart breaking to see the land as it is when there’s a huge waiting list for public Allotments which is why Silverdale Action Group in conjuction with  Aireborough  Neighbourhood Development Forum,  submitted a plan to Leeds City Council to have the allotments designated as Green Space” If the owners don’t want to work the allotments they should be rented out to those who do, or sold to either LCC or a Community Trust. This could bring them back to the thriving, growing heart of the Silverdale estate rather than the eyesore it has become.

The recent city wide Site Allocations Plan (SAP) proposed that the site be split 50:50 with half being given over to allotments and half for up to 32 houses. But, this has to be agreed as the right thing to do for the community as a whole by a Planning Inspector; Stonebridge are trying to jump the gun before the Planning Inspector can look at the full details of the situation.

Local householder Phil Dawson added, “We are concerned for the future of Silverdale if this application goes ahead. The estate already has huge access issues, which have been shown up in road works on Park Road this year, when people found it difficult to get to and from their homes. In addition, Yorkshire Water has indicated that existing sewers are close to capacity. I don’t see how this development can go ahead without the sewers overflowing. Leaving the allotments as the “wellbeing” legacy for future generations that they were intended to be, would be the best for the area; we’d like the opportunity to put this to the Planning Inspector”.

Local residents have until the 28th April to respond to the planning application. Details can be found on the Planning Public Access web site.

Planning Application;        17/01262/FU

For; Erection of 46 dwelling, including new access road and associated landscaping.

If you are concerned that this development is in the wrong place, write to LCC planning Department include the application number, your name and address to; Mrs. Carol Cunningham, Planning Services, Leonardo Building, 2, Rossington Street, Leeds.   LS2 8HD. Or email; planning@leeds.gov.uk


The land for the Silverdale Allotments (Coach Road Allotments) was acquired in 1921 by Park Gate Allotment Society Ltd. The 5.5 acres of land was bought from Jonathan Peate of Nunroyd House at a cost of £1,588 on a hire purchase agreement. It made 24 plots of 1020 yards long each. The society was the sixth allotment society established in Aireborough following the First World War when land for the improvements of the wellbeing of soldiers and the population in general was deemed necessary by Lloyd George’s Government. The first sod was dug in early February 1921 by Mr. John Rhodes of Micklefield House, Rawdon, a textile manufacturer, and philanthropic nephew of Jonathan Peate, followed by a tea provided by the Silver Badge Café at White Cross, run by ex-soldiers and an evening dance. The allotments were private, as self-help and independence was felt to be a better way of managing them than through the Local Council, and security of tenure was important for the allotment holders themselves in managing the land. The holders could keep small livestock including rabbits, poultry, bees and goats. The allotment holders paid 4s a week each for seven years to obtain the freehold of the land. The first local allotment group under the scheme was formed in 1917 for the Shaw Lane allotments, the land for which cost £1,700. With some schemes it was possible to build one house on each plot once the land had been bought, with the idea of it being a cultivated smallholding.

Leeds Consults on changes to the Site Allocation Plan

Leeds City Council (LCC) are consulting on the recent changes to the Leeds Site Allocation Plan (SAP). The changes can be seen here.

It is recommended by WARD that any comments you have about the changes should be sent in by email to sap@leeds.gov.uk rather than use the online response form which can be found on the LCC Changes to Site Allocations website pages. The online response tends to guide the responder into answering questions LCC wants to pose rather than dealing with the ones you might have.

It is recommended that you read the LCC  “How To” Guidance Notes.

Even if you have responded before to the previous SAP consultation, it is very important that you respond again, including your name, address, site reference name and number and the change number (there are 802 of them) referring to the change.

In the WARD area there are changes (as examples only) as below and there are large sites introduced elsewhere.

Specific site information – Aireborough (examples)

 HG1-12 Naylor Jennings – site slightly larger. Change 98, plan 1. See the online link above.

HG2-5 Coach Road, Guiseley – site smaller. Changes 60, 69 and 70. Plan 2. See the online link above.

HG2-12 Woodlands Drive, Rawdon – site smaller.  Changes 61, 62, 75 to 79. Plan 3. See the online link above.

HG2-229 Old Mill, Miry Lane, Yeadon – NEW site. Changes 58, 80 to 87. Plan 4. See the online link above.

EG1-5 (Employment site) – Park Mills, Leeds Road, Rawdon – Airedale site larger, reflecting built area. Change 89. Plan 5. See online link above.

Specific Site information – Horsforth

HG2-41 Strawberry Field – site larger. Changes 373, 387 to 392. Plan 36. See the online link above. If you respond, please comment on this.

HG2-43 Horsforth Campus – site removed. HG1 515 (the buildings) added as suitable for 72 dwellings.  Changes 366, 381, 393 to 396. Plan 37. See the online link above.  You might question that the changes to justify the removal of the area of this site are equally applicable to HG2-41 Strawberry Field.

Specific Site Information – other areas (examples)

HG2-234 Kirkstall Forge. Site larger, with West and East extension of boundary. West boundary opposite Newlay Conservation Area. Changes 378, 408. Plan 39. See online link above.

MX2-39 Parlington – NEW site, and phased site boundary changes. Changes 436, 440, 455. Plan 41A. See the online link above.


Martin Hughes, Treasurer, WARD



freedom-of-information-request-oct-2016On 18 October, on behalf of WARD, a Freedom of Information request was submitted to Bradford Council relating to the Council’s own comment in the SHLAA that “a significant number of sites with planning permission within Bradford City Centre … on the advice of volume house builder representatives on the SHLAA Working Group, have been completely left out of the 5 year (housing) supply due to the collapse in the market for city centre flats and apartments.” That comment was made in 2010 in preparation for the issue of the first version of the SHLAA in 2011.

However, there have been two revisions of the SHLAA since then, in 2013 and 2015 and it is not clear whether this “significant number of sites” have been included. The housing market, we are told, is in crisis and people need houses close to where they work. That’s a key part of Bradford Council’s Policy statements, but not one they seem to be adhering to. The housing market has strengthened substantially since 2010 (in the aftermath of the economic crash), and what possible legitimate reason could there be for NOT developing sites in Bradford City Centre, where people wouldn’t need to commute to work, where there are shops which need more custom, and where they would assist Bradford’s regeneration?

Given that these sites weren’t included in the first version of the SHLAA, so not even identified, how are we to know whether they’ve been included subsequently? The Freedom of Information request requires Bradford Council to identify the sites, reveal whether they have now been included and, if not, why they are still ‘sitting there’ with planning permission. If Bradford Council is allowing developers to keep sites in their ‘land bank’, how can they at the same time demand that small communities remote from the city give up Green Belt land for housing when it’s not needed there, and there are no local jobs?

The FOI request was due to be answered within 20 days of receipt, ie. by 17 November but has been delayed because (to quote) a member of staff is on leave, so we are told to expect a reply within a further 20 working days, so by 15 December 2016, or hopefully “before then”.

Leeds planning – everyone else is to blame, not us!

Leeds City Council yesterday considered a white paper motion  (see previous blogs) on reviewing the overly-ambitious Leeds housing target. Cllr Carter (Con) introduced the motion indicating that he would accept the reasonable amendments put down by Cllr Campbell (Lib Dem), and Cllr Anderson (Con). Two other amendments from Cllr Leathley (Morley Ind) and Cllr Lewis (Lab), he rejected.

There was a passionate debate with finger pointing and shouting and essentially Labour councillors blaming everyone but themselves. I felt it was another case of the Leeds administration just not listening.

No one appears to have understood that without a 5 -year land supply the Leeds Core Strategy is now out of date. Cllr Lewis (shouting) told Council that work on reviewing the housing target was already underway! News to us that follow this closely.

Votes were taken separately for each amendment: –
Cllr. Leathley’s amendment was rejected 34 for / 60 against
Cllr. Campbell’s by the same
Cllr. Anderson’s by the same.

The result of this is that the Labour amendment as reproduced below became “the substantive motion” and was voted on: result 60 for and 29 against with 4 abstentions.

The motion below was therefore passed.

It was shocking to see Labour unprepared to accept that they were wrong. I suppose we should be relieved that at least the housing number is under review.

This is the Labour motion (below) that was passed. It is worth reading in full and carefully e.g. “supposed lack of a 5 year housing land supply”. No. Fact: Leeds does not have a 5 year land supply at the moment, as the housing target is too high! The rest seems to be saying “not our fault”. Having been asked to put party politics aside, the opposite happened. Leeds City Council has to recognise that it was THEY that adopted a Core Strategy containing an overly-ambitious housing target – and no one else! I agree heartily that the NPPF has not helped the mistake that was made with the housing target.

Martin Hughes, Chairman, Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance


“This Council notes that the Secretary of State, a Conservative MP, has overturned local decisions on planning applications in Leeds based on a supposed lack of a 5 year housing land supply. Council believes that decisions like this primarily benefit developers at the cost of local communities.

Council further notes that the Labour administration has a longstanding commitment to selectively review the Core Strategy, including the housing target. Council welcomes the work that is underway to review the government inspector approved target of 70,000 homes in the light of recent evidence and wishes to see this concluded swiftly, whilst continuing to move ahead with the Site Allocations Plan. The results of this review should be reported to Executive Board at the earliest opportunity.

Council notes the Planning Green Paper published in 2010 states that “these radical reforms aim to:
• Restore democratic and local control over the planning system;
• Rebalance the system in favour of sustainable development;
• Produce a simpler, quicker, cheaper and less bureaucratic planning system.

Council laments that in 6 years of Conservative government that this has clearly not been achieved.

Council believes the National Planning Policy Framework needs fundamental change to ensure communities voices can be heard clearly. In particular, Council believes that the practical operation of the 5 year housing land supply undercuts local, democratic decision making and makes a mockery of a plan-led process. In addition, Council notes that inconsistent decisions have been made on the 5 year land supply from government appointed inspectors, with Leeds communities finding themselves at the mercy of housing developers.

Council calls for an overhaul of the planning framework that puts powers truly in the hands of local authorities to reflect local needs and vision, encourages sustainable development and seeks to remove the perverse incentives of holding deliverable land and limiting development on sites in order to increase profits.

In light of the current uncertainty, Council therefore requests that group leaders collectively write to the Housing and Planning Minister to highlight these concerns and, at the very least, call for a suspension of the 5 year land supply requirement on Councils that are progressing quickly towards a Site Allocations Plan hearing. Council also calls on the government to consider introducing penalties against developers who are found to be land banking, and for a report to be brought to Executive board outlining what more can be done in Leeds to address this problem.”


Councillors asked to allow review of Leeds housing target

Leeds City Council’s housing target of 70,000 is now causing serious problems for the sensible, and sustainable, development of the City. To address this serious situation, a White Paper is to be put to the Council on the 9th November 2016, by Cllr Andrew Carter.

The White Paper calls for a review of the housing target to start as soon as possible, and for the Council to ask the Communities Minister to suspend the need for Leeds to have a 5-year land supply, until it has sorted out a site allocation plan. Communities around Leeds are being urged by community groups to support this paper by writing a letter to LCC Councillors urging them to vote for it next week.

This can be done simply by an email to ALL 99 LCC Councillors in one go, asking them to support Cllr Andrew Carter’s White Paper.

Email: Councillors.All@leeds.gov.uk

The online link to the White Paper motion is below:


Your email can be copied and pasted from the one below: –

Dear Councillors

Subject: WP1 on 09/11/2016 Agenda Item 13 – Full Council Meeting

OPEN LETTER TO LEEDS CITY COUNCILLORS REQUESTING YOU TO SUPPORT WP1 on 09/11/2016 Agenda Item 13 – Full City Council Meeting

Dear Councillors

I write to formally request you as an elected representative of the City of Leeds, support WP1 presented by Councillor Andrew Carter.

The Green Belt and Green space across the City of Leeds is under attack by speculative developers seeking to exploit the 5-year land supply anomaly for their own financial gain with little or no regard for the true housing needs of the city and the wellbeing of its electorate.

In summary, the white paper proposes:

• The immediate review of Leeds Housing Numbers
• The council write to Housing and Planning Minister calling for a suspension of 5-year land supply requirement on councils that are progressing towards a site allocations plan hearing.

The green belt and its green infrastructure is the city’s most valued asset, not only for preserving the unique rural character of the city, but also for the health and wellbeing of ALL citizens of Leeds.

We respectfully demand that for the good of Leeds and its citizens you put party politics aside and support this white paper.

Yours Faithfully

Add your name here

Leeds Planning Core Strategy now “out of date”

The Grove Road, Boston Spa Recovered Appeal is worth a glance (first few pages of Secretary of State’s response), especially as it confirms (by Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG)) that Leeds does not have a 5-year land supply, and confirms that a 20% buffer penalty should apply to Leeds housing land supply because of this failure and the widening gap between target and actual delivery of housing.. The Secretary of State also “agrees with the (Appeal) Inspector that the Council’s land supply figures would seem to be overly optimistic”. This starts from the over ambitious total housing target of 66,000 dwellings.


NPPF 49 states that “policies for the supply of housing should not be considered to be up to date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a 5 -year land supply of deliverable sites”.

Richborough Estates had a planning application on a “green gap” site in Cheshire. The application was refused by Cheshire on the basis that there was a “green gap” policy in place as part of the Cheshire CS. Richborough appealed the decision challenging the green gap policy as out of date (NPPF 49) as Cheshire could not demonstrate a deliverable 5-year land supply.

The appeal Inspector agreed the appeal, finding that the green gap policy could not be considered to be up to date and the weight of it should be reduced.

Cheshire appealed to the High Court and Lord Justice Sullivan ruled that the Inspector was wrong to regard the green gap policy as out of date. Sullivan said that this issue ”is of critical importance to the application of national policy throughout the country”.

Richborough appealed the case to the Court of Appeal, with Cheshire claiming that NPPF 49 refers only to policies relating to the amount and distribution of housing. The Court of Appeal found that the words in NPPF 49 –  “relevant policies for the supply of housing”  – should apply to ALL policies which have the effect of restricting residential development and this specifically includes: –

Policies for the greenbelt
The general protection of the countryside
The conservation of the landscape of ANOBs and National Parks.

The Court of Appeal also stated that the appeal decision is not an open door for greenbelt development, as applicants still need to demonstrate very special circumstances (the exceptional circumstance paragraph 83 of NPPF).

Cheshire have appealed further to the Supreme Court and the case will be heard in early 2017.

Martin Hughes

Chairman, Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance