RESIDENTS moving into new homes on private housing estates in Barnsley should be spared the expense of funding big profits for the upkeep of open public areas in future, under new guidelines from Barnsley Council.

However, assurances are being sought about how the new arrangements will work in practice - and whether any action can be taken to help those already saddled with annual expense for a service they sometimes have little control over.

New housing estates are now expected to include public ‘green’ spaces but austerity cuts mean the cost of maintaining them is now left with the developer rather than the council and that usually means using a management company, with an annual charge to each household on the site.

The has generated complaints in some instances, about rising costs and a lack of accountability - with the companies involved often based many miles from the sites they are responsible for.

Under new planning guidelines introduced by the council, the authority is now seeking to allow residents to set up their own not-for-profit organisations to do the work instead, improving accountability and sidestepping profit margins which are thought to be as much as 50 per cent of the overall cost in some cases.

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Coun Dave Griffin, who has been aware of problems affecting homeowners in the Penistone West ward he represents, said he would be seeking assurances about how the new arrangements would work.

He said: “I am seeing Coun Tim Cheetham, the political lead on planning, to ask how this will work. It is a really good step forwards from the private arrangements, but I am interested to see how it will work and have concerns whether residents, at that point in time, will want to take it up,” he said.

Maintenance of such open spaces is likely to become an increasing issue over the next decade as the council has freed up many new sites for large housing developments under its recently adopted local plan, meaning many more new householders will be subject to the charge.

“My impression is hundreds of thousands of pounds will be sucked out of the borough by these private companies who tend the grass. Wouldn’t it be better if that money was spent locally?”

One area in Penistone likely to be significantly affected in the next few years will be a large estate planned for a site near Halifax Road, which will include hundreds of new homes, which will also have to include some green space.

Estates built in the last few years generally now have private companies responsible for managing green spaces created as part of the planning permission and Coun Griffin said there were concerns from residents on four or five estates he was aware of.

“How do we help them get out of arrangements where charges escalate and there is 50 per cent profit for someone, elsewhere in the country?” he said.

From the Local Democracy Reporting Service.