Newsletter March 2017- Proposed Block/Estate Charge Changes

In our January newsletter we flagged that Avant had given advance notice of their intention to make changes to the way in which the Estate and Block Charges are to be calculated. We also discussed this at the HRRA AGM in February.

Avant have confirmed that they have been in consultation with David Wilson and the principal block freeholders as well as with Trinity, the estate manager to confirm those changes.

It now appears that the changes are to come in effect on 1 April and residents will soon start to receive notification of the change through the post from Trinity.

Why? There has been an issue with transfer documents relating to certain properties sold by Avant. You may have picked up references elsewhere to a ‘TP1’ issue. In essence, those affected transfers are different from others used by Avant such that there isn’t the same obligation on all residents to pay toward communal expenses relating to their blocks (that is, the Block Charge wont provide an equal allocation of the block expenses).

Avant have decided that they can resolve this issue by changing the way the Estate and Block Charges are calculated. The change is intended to allow Avant to collect the relevant contribution to communal block expenses through the Estate Charge.

How are Avant going to do this?

Block Charge: each property in the various blocks across the estate makes a contribution to the repair and maintenance and general upkeep of the block they form part of. This includes car parking, paths and lawned areas. A separate charge is made as a contribution to block insurance. Taken together all of the Blocks cover the central part of the estate. The new build David Wilson homes around the outside of the old hospital are not part of this contribution.

Estate Charge: all properties contribute to the cost of repair, maintenance and general upkeep of the wider communal estate (referred to in the property transfer documents as the common facilities). To date no Estate Charge has been levied, although there was an attempt to start this in early 2016.

Avant propose to adjust the way in which the Estate and Block Charges are calculated. They do this by adjusting the land which falls into the common facilities.  The plan below represents the proposed transfer into the Estate Charge, much of which was previously covered by the External  Block charge.

HRRA have made various objections on behalf of residents.

Further detail is will shortly be available this website,  including Avant’s statement in respect of the provisions within the various property transfer documents which Avant says lets them do this.

When? We are told the change will come into effect on 1 April, but we await receipt of the formal notification.

Once those have been received, the next stage is up to residents. Some of those already affected by the TP1 issue have appointed a firm of solicitors to advise on the changes Avant previously proposed. Others more recently instructed solicitors to advise on Avant’s planning applications.

Let us know what you want to do and we will continue to try and co-ordinate matters and continue to make known to Avant the position of residents.

The HRRA Committee meet at the Social Club at 8.15pm, on the second Thursday of the month. Our next meeting is on 13 April 2017. Come along and have your say.

Avant’s latest statement on this issue follows. A full copy of their response to a number of issues raised by HRRA will shortly be posted to the HRRA website. (

High Royds Residents Committee


Changes to the Estate and Block Service Charge definitions:

As you know, we previously forwarded a copy of a draft letter to you which outlined the changes Avant is proposing to make to the extent of the Estate and Block communal areas. These changes are principally being made to provide a solution to the errors in the drafting of some Avant freehold transfers which affected the recovery from a small proportion of residents at the Development of some of the “external” block charges, such as communal parking areas, but are also being made to reflect changes to the development plan for the Estate, which has inevitably evolved since the Developer acquired the site in 2005. The draft communication has been reviewed and approved by David Wilson Homes as well as the ground rent investment owners of those freehold apartment blocks at the development which had previously been sold by either DWH or Avant. A copy has also been provided to and reviewed by Trinity, the managing agents for the development, who will be issuing the communication

As set out in the draft letter, the communication will be followed by:

– a revised service charge matrix setting out the appropriate percentages that each category of homeowner will contribute to under the service charge regime. This will include a weighting in respect of the newly defined Estate areas, so that DWH owners do not contribute towards the cost of areas that previously comprised the external “Block” areas; and
– a separate communication to those freehold owners who have errors in their freehold transfers, to ascertain if they wish to “opt in” to the full management regime. We have previously written to this category of freehold owners, but it is possible that they will make a different decision once they have received the communication regarding the revisions to the extent of the Estate, and we therefore wish to provide them with a final opportunity to opt in, if they have changed their minds.

As advised in my earlier email to you, the proportion of Estate costs payable by DWH and Avant homeowners is not expected to change, due to the application of the weighting that is referred to in the letter. Instead, the effect of the changes to the Estate charge calculation / weighting will be that the minority of Avant freehold owners who, due to an error in their transfer documentation, did not legally have to contribute to external block charges will be brought within the regime for contribution to those costs once they are redesignated as part of the Estate, as was originally envisaged when the management structure was put in place.

[HRRA INSERT of PLAN to help follow]


             Original TP1 Estate  Plan             New Proposed Estate Plan (Land Disposal in Blue)

– the disposal of Block 21 to another developer and its removal from the Block –the purchasers of properties within Block 21 will contribute to Estate costs
– the proposed transfer of an area of land to the south of the development to an adjoining land owner
– the inclusion of the area to the east of the development, surrounding the sports pitches and facilities, within the Estate boundary.

As the development plan continues to evolve, further changes may be required In due course, for example if planning for residential development of the Clocktower is obtained.

Feedback received in relation to the proposed changes to the Estate and Block Service Charge definitions

We have received some preliminary feedback to the proposals from one or two homeowners and via Trinity. I thought it would assist if I respond substantively via the HRRA to these queries.

Firstly, it was queried with us why there is a requirement for other parties interested in the development (such as the owners of the freehold blocks of apartments and David Wilson Homes) to be consulted in relation to decisions regarding the extent of the Estate and Block communal areas, in addition to Avant as the freehold owner of the Estate Communal Areas. When the management regime was originally set up, it was considered that these parties would have an aligned interest in ensuring that the development was managed in accordance with the principles of good estate management, for the benefit of the wider community. These parties have been consulted in relation to the proposed changes and have engaged in reviewing and responding to Avant in a prompt fashion.

It has also been raised as a concern that, if any area is transferred out of the Estate, that land will not continue to be subject to any public rights of way or the obligations under the s106 agreement in relation to the provision of new footpaths or bridleways. We can confirm that any land that is removed from the Estate will continue to be subject to any public rights of way and will also continue to be subject to the terms of the s106 agreement. This has been and will continue to be made clear to any third parties to whom any land is transferred. The potential (as yet uncontracted) land disposal which is highlighted on the revised Estate plan shows the extent of the boundaries of the potential land disposal edged red and coloured blue. The area is clearly marked as comprising a potential land disposal. The area of land that is being disposed of would, broadly, be replaced by the additional area of land adjacent to the sports pitches, which we had understood from
representatives of the High Royds Sports Association, the residents at the development were keen to see as being included within the communal areas in the long term, so that these areas could be included within the management regime and controlled for the benefit of the development in the years to come.

There has also been an inference that making changes to the extent of the Estate may constitute some form of mis-selling or misdescription on Avant’s part. All of the freehold transfers and leases at the development contain provisions allowing the extent of the Communal Areas and Facilities to be amended. This provision is extremely common for residential property developments, since communal areas frequently require adjustment to reflect changes in the development plan or other unforeseen changes that cannot be legislated for at the outset of a large development of this nature. There is no requirement in the documentation for homeowners to provide consent to the proposed changes or for a consultation exercise to be undertaken, which is, again, extremely common and reflects the fact that this is not always feasible on such a large development site, with so many homeowners and occupiers.

We have been advised that certain groups of residents may consider challenging the proposed amendments to the extent of the estate communal areas and blocks. Avant has taken its own legal advice on the matter and is confident that the changes proposed are permitted under the terms of the transfers and leases. However homeowners are, of course, free to take their own independent legal advice on the matter if they wish.

Finally, a query was raised regarding the operation of the “Nominee” provisions which are contained in the leases and transfers for the development. The “Nominee” provisions provide a legal mechanism to replace the existing managing agent, Trinity, at any time after the period of 1 year has expired after legal completion of the final plot sale at the development. This right can be exercised if more than 50% of the owners at the development vote to invoke the “Nominee” provisions. The right cannot currently be exercised by the residents, as the final dwelling has not been built and sold, but in due course the right could be exercised.”




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REMINDER – LITTER PICK – SATURDAY 18th March -10am -12 noon

A reminder that there is a Litter Pick arranged for this Saturday, meeting at the Social Club between 10am and 12 Noon Saturday. Come along, meet your neighbours and get involved followed by a coffee after at the Social Club.

** Those watching the HRRA Facebook page will already have seen the news that the toads have started to cross Guiseley Drive. A special facebook page has been set up (Click Facebook Link) ( and there will be updates to the HRRA Facebook. If you are using Guiseley Drive, please do so carefully, there will be toads and volunteers out in the dark.

Residents are welcome to become members of the Social Club, Annual subs are £10 for adults, £7.50 over 60 and £5 for juniors (16-18).

A new scrabble club will be running on Tuesdays, from 7.30 pm. Players, and beginners, are welcome to come along.

Planning & Avant
We understand that Avant’s planning application for the changes to the Admin Building and enabling build (off Norwood Avenue) will go to committee at the end of April.

Avant have indicated that they plan on being off site from completion of the current refurbishment work at Arkendale Court (the old Social Club building) by late Summer. They expect to return in Spring 2018 to start the refurbishment of the Admin Building. In the meantime we are seeing a lot of work on street lighting along Guiseley Drive, Ing Lane and in the courtyard. We are still pushing for an update on roads being made up.

Estate matters
We are awaiting the draft Estate Accounts from Trinity relating to those properties in management. In the meantime there has been no further update on the proposal to vary the contract definitions of the Estate Charge, which is the payment due from all residents for management and maintenance of the grounds and woodlands, and the Block Charges for those in management.

Residents are reminded that the stretch of road in front of Butterwick, where High Royds Drive runs down toward Guiseley Drive is not a through road. There are increasing complaints of drivers who use this narrow stretch at speed, including at night, without regard for pedestrians or cyclists. This is a private road for use by Avant contractors. The police are aware of resident’s concerns.

HRRA Committee


Resident An important update about the Estate- January 2017
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Dear Resident
We live on a really special development with superb architecture, open spaces and parkland setting.
For that this reason, let’s all get involved in taking control and shaping the Development’s future. Here are some the matters that are ongoing on the Estate and which HRRA have been working on, on your behalf.

Estate Issues
The process of transferring properties into management with Trinity Estates has continued this year to the extent that only a few blocks, where certain legal issues remain, are still to be transferred.

Avant Homes have also continued their policy of selling the freehold of leasehold properties to long term property investors. These investors will become the landlord of the blocks and collect the ground rents. The freehold of all DWH leasehold properties have been sold previously. Discussions continue between Avant and Trinity regarding the transfer of parts of the Estate which would result in the application of the estate charge element of the service charge. No agreement has yet been reached.

Unfortunately the Budget from Trinity for 2016/17 remains delayed. They continue to hold discussions with Avant Homes over insurance, void properties, which parts of the estate will be included etc. It is hoped they will be in a position to produce it soon. The estate committee continue to hold detailed discussions on insurance matters as we seek clarity on certain legacy issues, but also on who is placing the insurance, what processes are in use and who the insurance is being placed with for the various parts of the estate.

**STOP PRESS** In the last couple of days Avant have put HRRA on notice that a letter will shortly be sent out to all residents by Trinity, the estate managers. The letter will confirm that, with effect on 1 Feb, the system for calculating the Estate and Block charges will change. We do not as yet know what this may mean in terms of actual payment demands but we are seeking more detail which we will share with you all at our AGM on 9 Feb. **STOP PRESS**

The committee also continue to raise many matters such as the condition of the roads, pavements, street lighting, courtyard lighting, parking, dog bins and various other matters with the developers and the council. The lighting of communal areas, Guiseley Drive and Menston Drive have been raised most recently again by HRRA with Councillor Latty and this will be taken up imminently at the HRRA Liaison Group at which Leeds Council and Avant Homes attend. We proposed to continue to raise these and the other issues mentioned in 2017.

The Planning Application For the Administrative Building Clocktower and Enabling Land
The Planning Application for the Administrative Building / Clock Tower and the Enabling Development has been delayed due to the need for a District Valuers report to evaluate the need or otherwise for the enabling development. We understand this report has now been submitted. Consequently, it is probable that the application will be consider in early 2017. Residents may be interested in learning that a late proposed amendment to the site layout was submitted by the developer which created 26 car parking spaces within the framework of the lawned area of the Administrative Building / Clock Tower.

Notification has been received from English Heritage / Historic England that they are undertaking an assessment of the site with a view to evaluating whether the site should be delisted from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest

High Royds Sports Association
HRSA is a collaboration between the local cricket club, two junior football clubs, the Social Club and St Mary’s Menston High School working with Avant (the site developer) to progress the new Sports and Social Club.

The application for a new Sports and Social Club has been approved subject to a number of requirements including – the materials to be used, the enlargement of the balancing pond to accommodate increased surface water, the fencing off of the ground nesting bird area, replacement of trees and other such issues.

Recent progress has been made with confirmation from the Football Foundation in principle that over £300k of funding is available to help meet the cost of the new building. Planning permission has now been granted. A copy of the design plans is on the HRRA website.

HRSA is looking at ways to raise the final funds needed to help with the fit out, including sponsors, further grants and schemes like ‘buy-a-brick’.

High Royds Sports & Social Club
As many residents will be aware the temporary relocation of the Social Club to part of the Admin Building (below the Clock Tower) has been completed. It wasn’t as smooth as we would have hoped and there are a number of snagging issues to be resolved but we’ve had fantastic support for the Halloween, Christmas and New Year parties.

This is seen as temporary as the Social Club is anticipated to move into the new Sports and Social Club once it has been built.

The Club is open daily, and the prices are still significantly better than you can find locally. With the new facility for a guest beer the Club will be asking residents to vote for their favourites. Keep an eye out on the HRRA facebook page for events.

Our next event is on Friday 27 January, where we will have a Burns’ Night themed quiz. Plans include sourcing some Whiskey and Haggis.

As a reminder, Club Subscriptions are now due for renewal, at £10 (discounted for seniors) and a new junior section for the over 16s.

The Club is currently looking for:

a flat screen TV as the old one is no longer up to the job. If anyone has been replacing their old TV or has one that may be of use, please do get in touch;
volunteers to help with opening/closing the Club and working behind the bar.

If anyone can help, then please do speak with Heather or Tom.

Neighbourhood Watch
We have an established Neighbourhood Watch on the estate that have forged good links with the local Police Community Support Officer and Guiseley Area NHW. Everyone in the estate are encouraged to join. Member receive regular updates and are notified of particular issues to look out for on the estate by email. We are providing helpful communication to each other on the estate about antisocial behaviour and things to look out for.

Menston Community Association
HRRA have good ties with our neighbours and we wish to remind residents of the good facilities available only a short walk away. HRRA continue to pressure Avant to improve lighting along Menston Drive to make that walk safer.

HRRA were recently approached by MCA for support with their Community Library Project seeking to save the Menston library facility on Main Street, adjacent to the Kirklands Community Centre. A volunteer form and further information is available on the HRRA website, and at the library.

HRRA Annual General Meeting
Just some advance warning that the HRRA AGM will be held on Thursday 9 February at 8.15 in the Social Club.

The Agenda will cover, our constitution and charitable status, planning issues and estate matters (including topics such as parking, security and dogs).

Let us know if there are issues you want to discuss and we look forward to seeing many of you on the night.

In the meantime, the Committee continue to meet at the Social Club at 8.15pm, every month, second Thursday (12 Jan 2017).
This newsletter discusses some of the Committee are addressing on your behalf.

To read in more detail about all matters visit our website at
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Even if you are not, you can look at the site from your browser for all that is going on on the estate.
Remember -AGM Thursday 9th February 2017 at 8.15 at the Social Club. Please do come and have your say.

Useful Links
The HRRA meet every Second Thursday of the Month at the Social Club at 8.15pm. All residents are welcome to attend.

If your neighbours are not signed up to the HRRA, why don’t you encourage them to sign up by simply going on the list at our website. Click here to take you there.

Full Minutes
The full minutes of all the committee meetings can be found at our website

All the records of meetings and subcommittee meetings are also on there.

Have you got the skills that we could really use?

Do you think you would be able to help us in some way?

Estate Management, Legal, Planning, Website Design,
Marketing, Website Building, Event Management, hospitality, fundraising or…just time and a different viewpoint….

Even just an extra pair of hands to help for an hour behind the bar at one of our events..
Please, get in touch. We would love for you to get involved.
What would you like to do…?

Have you anything that you would like to do with others on the estate?

A residents’ tennis group?
Saturday morning run club?
Events for the more mature residents?
We can put the idea to everyone to see if there others who fancy it?

Drop us a line and we will put it in a news letter or use our Facebook site to find out what others think.

Join HRRA Neighbourhood Watch
If you are interested in joining HRRA Highbourhood Watch and receive updates, sign up on this Sign Up Link.

For the latest Menston Community Association Newsletter click here.