Confusion reigns over estate upkeep

Lucy Leach in Beaumont Park where trees including a large blossom tree have been felled.
Lucy Leach in Beaumont Park where trees including a large blossom tree have been felled.

RESIDENTS of a private estate in Lancaster say they have been left in limbo over who is looking after the land around their homes.

Beaumont Park, off Slyne Road, was built by Norman Jackson’s building and civil engineer contractors 18 years ago, but plans to hand over the maintenance to Lancaster City Council have fallen by the wayside.

Jackson’s are now looking for potential investors to take the estate from them and continue upkeep of the grounds, which include a play area and open woodland by the canal.

Residents have also been offered the chance to set up a committee to look after the estate themselves.

Lucy Leach, who has lived in Hornby Court on the estate for 16 years, said: “The residents have been left in limbo. We don’t know if anyone’s going to be looking after it now; no one knows what is going on.

“There was a suggestion that a residents’ committee be set up to pay towards the upkeep of the grounds but that was thrown out, because some properties are rented and some are elderly residents.

“It just wasn’t something that was wanted because people didn’t come here to look after a public area. We just want to know that the grounds are going to be taken over and kept in good condition.”

Jackson’s managing director Roy Jackson admitted that the firm is trying to sell the estate.

“I have given the residents the chance to take it off us, but they don’t want it,” Mr Jackson said. “It costs us about £3,500 a year for ground maintenance. We drew up a plan for the residents which worked out at 50p per week per house.”

Mr Jackson said an initial agreement made between the company and the city council, which would have allowed the council to take on the estate’s upkeep, was no longer legally binding due to policy changes.

“We have been in consultation with them but they are not interested,” he said.

“I am desperate to move the whole thing forward but we will continue to look after the land because we are responsible developers.”

Jackson’s has now submitted a planning application to build four new three-bed starter homes on the estate in a bid to raise interest in the site from potential investors.

As part of this, a mature tree was cut down which Mr Jackson says was diseased and will be replaced by four new trees.

A city council spokesman said that while the council has no legal responsibility for the land, they “would not be averse to entering into negotiations with the site owner to facilitate taking over the maintenance of the landscaping and amenity land.”

In common with similar agreements, the council would require a contribution to be made covering the next 10 year’s maintenance costs.