Community Update

Footpaths
There has been continued discussion with local stakeholders (Chelmsford City Council, Countryside & Ptarmigan Land) about the fact that residents of Channels have no hard, lit, access to and from the development by foot either down to Essex Regiment Way or across to Beaulieu.

As a result of information received from the above stakeholders over recent weeks, which sadly confirmed that we would indeed be stuck for another winter with the same situation, a meeting was held with City Councillor Barry Knight so that he could see first hand (in the dark) the issues that we face. He agreed that it was far from ideal and that he would not be happy with the situation if he lived on the development.

Cllr Knight has lobbied on our behalf and a further meeting will now take place with planners and Countryside to explore whether a re-phasing of works can be agreed which could potentially see a hard, lit path extend from Niblick Green much earlier than the planned implementation date of May 2020. In addition Ptarmigan Land are working with Marden Homes (who are responsible for building the open spaces on the other side of Channels Drive) with a view to accelerating the installation of a hard lit path to and from the retail units on Essex Regiment Way.

It has taken a great deal of persistence to get this far and there is still no guarantee that matters will improve however the Estates & Amenities Sub Committee will take this action forward and do its best to secure better access for all off of the development.

Bus Issues
It has become apparent that there are issues with the 51 Bus Service again with many reports of buses breaking down or not turning up. It is important that if there is an issue that you continue to log it via the website so that evidence can be collated and presented to the organisation that is responsible for managing the contract with First Bus. There is now an option added to cover the scenario of the bus breaking down!

For those that have been waiting for it, the ‘real time’ bus display board is due for installation at the bus stop on Friday 1st November.

Community Fundraising
Other than securing grants when available, the Community Group is reliant on the goodwill of residents to continue with its activities. This could include helping out with the running of community events or fundraising for specific projects such as benches on our land.

The CRCG now has a Paypal account and as such if residents wish to assist with fundraising via donations, it’s easy to do so!

Channels Fountain
Our fountain is back and running again! Unfortunately despite much investigation, it is still unclear why the water level dropped so much and then did not refill, despite the extensive amount of rainfall that has led to other ponds and swales retain plenty of water. Bellway do believe that there is a link with the draining of the main lake however we will need to to monitor the situation over the coming months.

For now enjoy the fountain 🙂

The CRCG Needs YOU!

The current Committee members have spent a significant amount of their personal time progressing a number of key issues including improvement of estates, sorting the unreliable buses, starting neighbourhood watch, securing our first community grant and of course appointment of a new Managing Agent (POD Management Ltd).

However it is now more important than ever that as many people as possible get involved in helping to build a strong community. The CRCG Aims can only be achieved with the involvement of the local community and this is your chance to shape the future for Bellway at Channels.

We need you to get involved and be part of something special!


Take a look at the brief for each of the sub-committees and if there is an area you are interested in and want to be involved with, get in touch!

The names of all those that have pledged to get involved will be collated at the end of October and individuals will be allocated to their respective sub-committees based on the preferences advised. Each sub-committee will then be tasked with taking forward their work under the leadership of the relevant CRCG Committee Member.

The CRCG Committee looks forward to working with you 🙂

2019/20 Service Charges

Service Charge Demands for the period 1st July-31st December 2019 have now been raised. Notifications for privately owned properties were sent directly to residents week commencing 7th October however tenants of both Colne Housing and CHP will receive notifications via those organisations respectively. As such there will be a short delay before tenants have confirmation of the updated charges that form part of their tenancy agreements.

As previously advised there has been an increase in the Service Charge, primarily to reflect the fact that the previous Grounds Maintenance budget for RMC responsible land was not set at the right level to comply with strict on-going planning conditions. The value for Grounds Maintenance still remains a best estimate and will be confirmed over the next few months once a procurement exercise for this element of service has been undertaken by POD Management on behalf of the RMC. The procurement will facilitate delivery of the detailed Service Specification that was produced jointly by Bellway, the RMC & the CRCG earlier in the year to ensure that planning conditions could be satisfied.

It is important to note that the Service Charge Budget currently includes a value for site-wide costs at the same level as that notified in 2018/19. We believe that there should be a credit due for 2018/19 and indeed that the costs for 2019/20 should be lower on the basis many of the open spaces are not yet available for residents to access. However until the on-going detailed investigation into site-wide costs has been completed, it is considered prudent to provide for the same level of budget.

Notwithstanding the above position, and due to the on-going concerns about transparency in relation to site-wide costs, POD have been instructed not to make any payment until the aforementioned investigation has been concluded.

The summary schedule of costs and letter that has been sent to residents of privately owned properties can be viewed from the Service Charges Page.

Andrew Wright, Interim Director
Channels (Chelmsford) Management Company Ltd

Phase 1/2 Estates Update

A meeting between the CRCG, RMC, POD Management & Bellway was due to take place today (30th September) to undertake a final inspection of the site with a view to handover of the last Phase 1/2 areas that will become the responsibility of the RMC (via POD Management). Concerns raised by residents about the state of the nursery site were also due to be discussed.

Unfortunately much of the work due to be progressed by Bellway had not yet been completed and as such the meeting has been re-scheduled for the end of October. I have however received confirmation that the rubbish in the central communal area will be collected and cleared tomorrow (1st October).

POD Management are preparing to lead a tender process for grounds maintenance in line with the Service Specification that was produced by PBA Consulting in conjunction with the CRCG and Bellway earlier in the year. This is a very robust and detailed document that will enable the RMC & POD Management to hold future contractors to account and to monitor service delivery more effectively.

The issue of the water level in the lake (and therefore the non-functioning fountain) has yet to be resolved and at this point in time there is no confirmed position as to why the water level has remained so low, despite plenty of rainfall. The surrounding drainage gulleys which feed that lake have been checked for blockages and there is still a belief that the drop in water level is linked to the draining of the main lake where Marden Homes are building. Investigations are continuing so that the fountain can be restored to its former glory.

I will provide a further update following the re-scheduled meeting with Bellway however both the RMC & POD are clear that we will only accept responsibility for land that has been properly prepared and signed off as not requiring any further remedial work.

Andrew Wright, Interim Director
Channels (Chelmsford) Management Company Ltd

Street Name Change

Further to comments raised in relation to confusing street names at the entrance to the development following the road layout change, Bellway has approached Chelmsford City Council (as street naming authority) with a proposal to amend them.

Currently anyone driving into the development has to turn right off of Fairway Drive to continue on Fairway Drive into Eagle Rise. The proposed change is to rename the section of road from the roundabout to the entrance of the development as Brassie Wood. The area in question is shown hatched in red on the image below:

As part of the legal process, a notice advertising the proposed change is due to appear on-site Thursday 26th September.

Subject to consideration of comments received, the process should be complete in November and Bellway will arrange for the street nameplates to be updated and moved to accommodate the change.

NHW Update

As a result of recent reports to both Essex Police & Chelmsford City Council in relation to anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the flats on Aqua Verde, both were onsite today with Colne Housing to meet and talk to tenants to gauge the extent of the problems.

As part of the operation, a warrant was executed and drugs recovered:

It is important to report all instances of crime and anti-social behaviour and the actions from today should give assurance that intelligence received is collated and used by the relevant agencies.

Community News

Public Open Spaces
Following liaison between Ptarmigan Land and Marden Homes (who are responsible for delivering the site wide open spaces), construction of the strategic open space areas is now expected to commence in late September/early October this year and run through until the end of 2020.

Work on construction of the play areas on the area adjacent to Channels Drive is likely to commence in December 2019/January 2020 and be complete by Spring 2020. Final works to the village green will be completed before the end of October this year with pedestrianisation of Belsteads Farm Lane due for completion by January 2020 (subject to relevant Highway’s approvals).

There are however a series of works that the landowners are looking to accelerate by undertaking the work themselves, the detail of which is presently being finalised with Marden. This includes looking at where opportunities exist to enable early access/release of open space areas and more importantly in relation to safe access through to the retail units on Essex Regiment Way.

At present all timings noted above are indicative as the more detailed phasing continues to be worked up by Marden, the landowners and their technical team.

Neighbourhood Watch
We are in the process of arranging our own Channels ‘Cuppa with a Coppa’ event during the autumn. Channels Estates have kindly offered us a venue that we can use for the session and we are waiting for confirmation of availability from the local community policing team. The provisional date we are working to is Saturday 5th October between 3.00pm–5.00pm so note this time in your diaries!

The latest Chelmsford Crime Report, as at 18th August 2019, can be found via the Neighbourhood Watch Useful Information page or directly here. Unfortunately we have a mention on page 2.

Dog Fouling
As a result of a number of comments about Dog Fouling, there is some information here which includes how and where to report observed instances. Chelmsford City Council has a Public Spaces Protection Order in force which makes dog fouling an offence.

Fountain & Lake
We are currently exploring whether the significant drop in water level in our lake is as a direct result of Marden draining the lake at the front of the development which borders Essex Regiment Way. Given the level of rainfall that we have had (and observing many of the natural drainage areas in Beaulieu holding water), it is very odd that the water level of our lake remains lower than ever before.

It seems too much of a coincidence that the level in our lake started to drop at the exact point that Marden lowered the water levels in the front lake. We have logged the issue with POD Management and in addition Bellway will check the drainage gulleys that feed the lake from the adjacent roads to ensure there are no blockages as a result of the highways work that has been on-going for the last few weeks.

We do not want to end up with a shallow, stagnant pond and of course we would like our fountain switched on again!

Andrew Wright
Channels Residents Community Group

POD Mobilisation Update

It has been 2 weeks since POD Management commenced services as the new Managing Agent. The majority of mobilisation tasks have been completed although there have been delays due to DJC Property Management not providing details of financial balances to be transferred, although this has now been completed.

Service Charge Budgets
The RMC & POD Management had planned to distribute new Service Charge Budgets & associated invoices by mid-August. Unfortunately due to the delay in POD Management receiving the necessary financial details and balances from DJC Property Management, there will be a further delay in getting the Service Charge information out to residents.

The new budgets will be distributed at the earliest opportunity but certainly no later than the end of August.

Estate Issues & Concerns
All issues that have been logged via the CRCG website are now live on the POD Management system. RMC directors have access to the system and can track progress to ensure that the issues are being dealt with. The key priority for POD has been to transfer the financial balances from DJC (which has proved to be a painful process) to enable Service Charge invoices to be sent out.

As such the majority of issues have not yet been dealt with however the position will be fully reviewed at a meeting due to take place on 22nd August. Please continue to log issues at:

https://channels.community/log-a-concern/

Landscaping Dilapidations
A meeting is to be held on 22nd August between POD, the RMC and Bellway to determine what is outstanding and how Bellway will address the areas still in need of being brought up to standard.

Bellway have asked that POD to give them a price for taking on the newly prepared areas to ensure they are in a suitable state for on-going maintenance at which point the areas will transfer to the RMC. This will also be discussed at the meeting on 22nd August. All existing dilapidation items have been added to POD systems for audit purposes.

Ongoing Mobilisation
POD have been asked to provide updates on a weekly basis until RMC Directors are satisfied that all core mobilisation tasks have been completed.

Andrew Wright, Interim Director
Channels (Chelmsford) Management Company Ltd

Community Grant Award

The CRCG is pleased to announce that the Bellway at Channels Development (Phases 1&2) has been awarded a Community Initiative Fund (CIF) Microgrant from the ‘Community Chest’.

The CIF was launched by Essex County Council (ECC) on 1st April 2019 and is administered by the Essex Association of Local Councils (EALC). The Grant has been awarded to enable the purchase of a marquee to support community events and activities into the future.

The CRCG, on behalf of the entire community, would like to show their appreciation for the generosity and give thanks to those involved in the awarding of the grant including the CIF Panel, Councillor David Finch (the leader of Essex County Council) and the EALC funding officer.

The CRCG have also been successful with a pre-application checklist submission for a Main Community Initiative Fund Grant. The full application is due on 18th August and the CRCG would be grateful for volunteers to assist in the completion of the bid.

If you are interested and are willing to assist with finalising the budget and application, please contact us via the form below:

Information submitted via the above form will be held only for the purpose of ensuring residents can be contacted about the CIF Grant submission.

With thanks to Melanie Williamson & Carroll Crumpen who have worked over recent weeks to open a CRCG Bank Account (with Metro Bank) and to get the ball rolling in securing grant funding for our community.

POD Service Commencement

Dear Residents,

POD Management officially commenced their service today. All private residents should have already received a Welcome Letter and a unique reference to log contact details onto the POD system.

Housing Association tenants may not have received letters yet as currently all correspondence has to go via the Housing Associations. We will be looking to agree with the Housing Associations that POD can send correspondence in relation to estate management directly to properties in the future.

There is some new information on the website which explains the responsibilities of, and differences between, the Residents Management Company, the Managing Agent (POD) and the CRCG.

Don’t forget to log issues via the CRCG website for the time being as notified on 25th July however there is no need to log issues in relation to Highways as everything is already logged and being worked on with Bellway with a view to resolution by the end of August. The City Council is watching progress to ensure all planning requirements are adhered to.

I will be working closely with POD over the coming weeks to assist with the ongoing mobilisation and to ensure key issues identified are addressed. I am confident that a new era working in partnership with POD Management will be far more productive than that with the previous managing agent! 🙂

Andrew Wright, Interim Director
Channels (Chelmsford) Management Company Ltd