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by Julie Ozwell, Woodhill Properties Limited

My familiarity with the houses on your Estate started when I was about 11 years old, in the 1950’s. My father, Herbert Collins, would tour around his Southampton properties and take me with him. During the working week, he would be at his office in Carlton Crescent, but on Saturday mornings, he would get out the ancient Austin and do an inspection. If he saw any untoward paint colour or anything unapproved, he would knock the door and ‘have a word’ with the resident. Of course, many residents knew him and wanted to chat. He would incidentally point out to me important design features – it must have been satisfying for him to see the culmination of many years work and it was good training for me!

I remember too, answering the door at home, 38 Brookvale Road, to a resident with a parking grievance (nothing changes!) and being told by my father in no uncertain terms, that he was not available and the man should call at the office in business hours.
His ideas were of his era, Victorian and early twentieth century, but his designs have stood the test of time, making this area a very pleasant place to live in the twenty first century. I hope you agree.

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by Ray George

Herbert Collins Estates Limited was incorporated on 9th October 2017. Company number 11003580 is a company limited by guarantee. It has members not shareholders. Each member guarantees £10, which only has to be paid if the company becomes insolvent.

The rules by which the company is run are its Articles of Association. These articles are the model articles for a private company limited by guarantee with additional and amended provisions.
These additions and amendments can be seen at beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/11003580

To allay fears that the company might make exorbitant charges for consent to make alterations, one of the articles says: “The company may not exploit for monetary gain the granting of consents required under the covenants, but this shall not prevent the company making a small charge.
All owners in the Conservation Area and Summerfield Gardens are entitled to be members. Other residents may be admitted by the directors.

The company and the residents’ association are separate organisations, but the Articles of Association establish several links. One of these is the right of the HCERA annual general meeting to appoint a director for 3 years, each year.

At the AGM, a number of people were proposed to be directors. Our Catch 22 is that to be a director you must be a member and to appoint members you must have a quorum of directors. Fortunately, both Hilary Crane and John Dixon were proposed at the AGM and are founding company members, so I can and therefore have appointed them as directors, thus allowing us to move forward.

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The Association’s AGM took place on Tuesday 10th October at St George’s School. The importance of this meeting was reflected by the record attendance of about sixty people. The chairman thanked Una Chandler for delivering Newsletters etc for many years in Ethelburt Avenue, but she has now had to give this up. Fortunately several people volunteered to do this. Richard Ross, of number 9, filled the vacancy as street rep for Field Close. The regular items on the agenda were disposed of very quickly with nothing raised even under any other business.

We then passed on to what everyone had come for. The second part was very professionally conducted by Ken Hickling and comprised questions asked by the members and answered by the Freehold Acquisition Working Party: Hilary Crane, John Dixon, Ray George and Brian Johnston. Michelle Hickling did a remarkable job capturing everything on a flip chart. This is presented in the supplement that follows this Newsletter. At the end, a resolution “Herbert Collins Estates Limited should acquire Woodhill Properties Limited’s interest in the Estate and in other land, subject to contract” was passed unanimously with no abstentions.

For information, the “other land” referred to in the resolution is property leased for 999 years at Thornhill, Southampton and represents about 20% of the total ground rent income. Woodhill Properties Limited gave us no option but include this in our acquisition.

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by Ray George

In our Spring Newsletter, we referred to horror stories in the press about new-build housing being sold leasehold. You may think we have been using these to frighten residents and think that they have no relevance to our situation of older properties with fixed ground rents.

On the contrary, there is a local example of a company that uses restrictive covenants as a money making machine. £5000 was required for the sale of the freehold with a £5 per year ground rent. To be fair, if that is the right word here, it was to be unencumbered by covenants. £30,000 was demanded for approval to build a house. They did settle in the end for £2,500 which does suggest they weren’t too confident of their ground. Currently over £16,000 is being asked for breach of a covenant, made in the 1930s, by raising the roof. It is hard to see that the covenant which burdens the land touches and concerns the land purported to enjoy the benefit of the covenant. These last two examples are of freehold properties that were never leasehold.

How do they suddenly pounce on a breach of the covenants? Perhaps by keeping an eye on the online weekly list of planning applications in Southampton or they come to light when the property is being sold. A question asked in Enquiries before Contract is “Where restrictions have in the past required any person’s consent or approval of plans does the Seller have written evidence of that consent or approval?”.

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It is not too late to offer a donation of £200 (or other amount, if you prefer). A 30th September deadline was on the form attached to the HCERA secretary’s letter. This was just to give us a figure for the AGM. Contributions are still invited. The more people that participate, the less each will need to pay.

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by Michelle Hickling
Do come to the Christmas Carols on the top corner green in Ethelburt Ave: Thursday 21st December 7 – 8pm.

Ocean Brass Band will be leading us in the festive sing song. Bring along your family and friends and some food/drink to share!

Donations towards the Band and their chosen charity, the MS Society.

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This is advance notice that the Swaythling Lawn Tennis Club annual quiz will be held on Friday February 2nd 2018. Further details will be published in the new year, but in the meantime contact John Green on 8067 1016 for information, or to register your interest.

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The dates for the next three road maintenance working parties are as follows:
Upper Team 11th November 2017
(Houses 58 to 102 and 67 to 111)
Middle Team 17th February 2018
(Houses 30 to 56 and 41 to 65)
Lower Team 12th May 2018
(Houses 2 to 28 and 1 to 39 ).
Reminders will be sent out for each team a week beforehand. If you are not on the current mailing list and wish to be so, please contact John Dixon at 34 Ethelburt Avenue,
(tel: 8055 0064 or email: jdd at soton.ac.uk).
Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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There are nature walks, led by Bob Painton, in Monks Brook Greenway on Saturday 18th November at 11.00 and Sunday 19th November at 11.30. Meet at Swaythling Railway Station

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