You will be aware from the Spring Newsletter that Woodhill Properties Limited has offered to sell all of its freeholds to the Residents’ Association (failing which, they will sell to a commercial company). There have been a variety of adverse reports of such commercial organisations exploiting the position by making unreasonable and expensive demands of homeowners, threatening court proceedings etc. While some of us will have the freehold, there will have been covenants imposed which could be exploited (e.g excessive demands for approvals – such as a percentage of the increase in property value resulting from alterations).

The HCERA Committee has set up a small working party to look at the feasibility of acquiring the estate from Woodhill Properties Ltd and to make recommendations on how this should be managed.

All residents we have spoken to, say that the HCERA should acquire the freeholds. If we go ahead and create a company to do this, we would like to have a seamless transition from Woodhill Properties. But once we get down to practicalities, we encounter problems. The price is well within our reach, so we could invite donations from all residents to make the purchase. Alternatively, one or more residents could loan the money and then the income from the ground rents would initially be committed to repaying the money loaned. We could run the company at very little cost if there were residents willing and able to do this. Woodhill Properties Ltd has the expense of employing a firm of accountants and an agent. Glebe Court in Highfield is owned by a company limited by guarantee and the house owners are members. They employ a management company to be the company secretary, but the cost dwarfs the income from their ground rents. They like this arrangement because it is impersonal.

Please email us, or talk to your street rep to contribute your thinking. It will be on the agenda at the AGM.

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A granite memorial to Herbert Collins, like the one in front of Market Buildings, has been found in the basement of a house in Portsmouth. Can anyone throw light on this? Was the original stolen many years ago and replaced?

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NDLANDSCAPES for reconstruction of a back garden, including raised beds using sleepers.

Ring David on 07540 951853 or email ndlandscapes17@gmail.com

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We have been contacted by the director of Woodhill Properties Ltd, Julie Ozwell, to ask if HCERA would be interested in acquiring the ground rents of the estate. They are planning to dispose of the company’s assets. The shareholders, who are family members, do not live near Southampton or even in the UK. She has recently moved to Scotland. The younger generation are not interested in taking over.
The HCERA Committee, at their last meeting, considered this and agreed that it should be explored. Our concern was that although Woodhill Properties might be able to sell the ground rents to a company with their views, that company might then be taken over by less scrupulous people who would see everything in money terms. Horror stories about new-build houses being sold leasehold have recently been in the news, for example BBC Radio 4 “Money Box Live” on 19th April.

As yet, we do not know the terms of an offer from Woodhill Properties. In the 1980s, the owners’ associations of both the Uplands Estate and Glebe Court in Highfield acquired the freeholds from the executors of Herbert Collins. The Uplands Estate has four legal owners who live on the estate and hold the property as trustees for the Uplands Estate Houseowners Association. Glebe Court is owned by the Glebe Court Estate (Southampton) Owners Association Limited, a private company limited by guarantee. Members of the company must be owners. Preliminary discussions by the Committee favoured limited-company ownership as the better route.

We are at an early stage and would like to hear views and suggestions from other residents. When more definite proposals are formulated, they will be put to a meeting of the Association.
We also invite residents to volunteer expertise.

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Swaythling Lawn Tennis Club is a small and friendly LTA affiliated tennis club with two well maintained grass courts located in the corner of the lower green in Ethelburt Avenue. We welcome beginners and juniors as well as more experienced players who are able to make use of the courts, take part in mix-ins with other members, and play in friendly matches against other local clubs. Fees are £70 (£65 before the end of May) for adults, £20 for juniors under the age of 18, and £140 for families (£130 if payed early).

The new season will start at the end of April, depending on the weather. Please come along to one of our mix-ins on Monday and Wednesday evenings, or Saturday afternoons. Further information can be obtained from our website www.swaythlingtennis.org.uk, emailing our Membership Secretary, Claire Buckley, at sltc at swaythlinglawn.co.uk, or phoning our Chair, John Green, on 8067 1016.

Swaythling Lawn Tennis Club Annual Plant and Cake Sale/Open Day
The tennis club welcomes you to our annual sale of plants and homemade cakes on Saturday 13 May at the club, starting at 12 noon. This event is being run in conjunction with an LTA Great British Tennis Weekend giving non-members the chance to see the club, pick up information, and have a free game.

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On Saturday 4th March, Barbara Cooke, Radian’s Community Development Officer, organised a big clean up in Mansbridge as part of the Keep Britain Tidy Spring Clean. We were invited to participate and litter pick in our Conservation Area.

We only had two recruits. The main reason was our inability to contact residents at short notice (see the next item about an email list.) Despite this, five sacks of litter were collected and earned both a free bacon roll at the Round About Café.

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by Ray George

As mentioned in the previous item, we are unable to contact residents at short notice. The Committee has therefore decided to set up an email list. Please email HCERA, if you would like to be on it. People who have emailed us in the past will be automatically put on the list. You can request to be removed from the list at any time.

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The HCERA Midsummer Party will be on Saturday 8th July. This is slightly later than usual but has been chosen to fit in with other commitments of our barbecue cooks. We would much appreciate it, if you could offer help with the barbecue, children’s games or face painting. Please send us an email to offer help.

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The University has announced that it will not be using Bencraft Court, near the Crematorium, next session. The site is up for sale for redevelopment. Residents who use the U2B bus to the end of Lobelia Road, will be worried about the continuation of this service.

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