Heritage blasts council survey
LETCHWORTH Garden City Heritage Foundation and Letchworth Garden City Council were embroiled in a war of words this week. It flared up when Stuart Kenny, director general of the Foundation, criticised a survey sent to residents by the council, saying it c
LETCHWORTH Garden City Heritage Foundation and Letchworth Garden City Council were embroiled in a war of words this week.
It flared up when Stuart Kenny, director general of the Foundation, criticised a survey sent to residents by the council, saying it contained inaccuracies, was misleading and is causing a great deal of upset and confusion for residents.
But the chairman of the council Cllr Philip Ross hit back with a broadside saying: "We have asked the Foundation to talk to us time and again about residents' concerns.
"The Foundation's response has been to take people to court to prevent debate. Basically it is about time the posturing stopped and the talking started. I invite Mr Kenny to come and talk to the town council about any concerns he has."
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The report causing the anger asked a series of questions mostly regarding properties and the Foundation itself.
The first error according to Mr Kenny was the council's claim that owners of freehold or leasehold properties must obtain permission from the Foundation and North Herts District Council (NHDC) to make changes on their homes except those on the Jackmans and Grange estates.
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Mr Kenny said: "Many alterations and extensions do not require planning permission from NHDC, so only the Foundation's consent is required. The council's 'geographic summary', just excluding the Grange and Jackmans is wrong."
Mr Kenny said the Foundation's scheme of management does not apply to all properties whose owners buy the freehold, saying: "Those which remain leasehold are not bound by the scheme of management but by the terms of their leases. Many leases contain covenants requiring Foundation consent for certain works, but, normally only for structural and external changes."
With regard to council claims about home owners having no right of appeal to an independent body if planning applications are refused by the Foundation, Mr Kenny said applicants that are refused can refer the matter to the Advisory Management Committee and they can ask the board to reconsider an application. In the last three years the committee has asked the board to consider five applications and in all but one case the board then granted consent.
The Foundation is also upset at the council's question asking residents whether they are concerned about the terms of the revaluation of their lease.
Mr Kenny says the question is both inaccurate and highly misleading saying: "This is causing people a great deal of concern, indeed distress. Letchworth Garden City leases are not being re-valued or changed in any way.
"They remain as they are worded and it is not an option for the Foundation or anyone else to change the terms of the Leasehold Reform Act.
"The council is not making it clear that the cost of buying the freehold under the terms of the Leasehold Reform Act is a statutory process.