Queen pleads poverty - Staple Fitzpaine tenants must buy or get evicted

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Apr 24 23:03:15 BST 2014

Crown tenants under threat in homes sell-off

Daily Press  |  Posted: April 18, 2014
Families living in Crown Estate-owned properties near Taunton fear 
their close-knit communities will be torn apart by their landlord's 
decision to sell 32 homes, and tell tenants to buy or move out.
Almost one third of the 101 homes in the farming and 
forestry-dominated land holding are to be sold.
Residents say they have been given between two and four months to leave.
Ruth King, who has lived in her home in Staple Fitzpaine for 15 years 
said: "It used to be that when you had a Crown Estate property you 
had security. I thought we'd be here for the rest of our lives."
With chickens and pets Mrs King fears finding a new home in the 
immediate area will be difficult.
Neighbours who have become close friends are heartbroken at the 
pending separation.
Council leaders have also raised concerns. County councillor Ross 
Henley has called for the Crown Estate to remove the threat of eviction.
Taunton Deane Borough Council leader John Williams said the landlords 
would be: "stripping out a complete layer of affordable housing."
The houses are let on shorthold tenancies.
Neil Jacobson portfolio manager for the Crown Estate, said: "We 
understand that this may come as a disappointment to some tenants, 
which is why we are offering all of those affected the chance to 
discuss purchasing the property they have been renting, should they wish.
"Conscious also that finding alternative accommodation can be 
challenging we are providing increased notice periods, above the 
statutory minimum (two months) and will look sympathetically on any 
personal circumstances that mean tenants can't meet the timescales."
Read more: 


Crown Estate Eviction of Neroche Parish Tenants


Recently some residential tenants of the Crown Estate in the Neroche 
Parish area received notice that they must either purchase their 
residence or leave within a few months.  This came as a complete 
shock and has caused distress to those affected, and to other tenants 
of the Crown Estate who are unsure of what the future holds.

Details of what is happening are uncertain at the moment, both of the 
number of houses in the parish affected and whether farms are also involved.

One resident of the Crown Estate, Vicky Pearson, who received such 
notice, has begun a campaign to try to prevent the evictions 
happening.  She has gained very strong support from local residents, 
both Crown Estate tenants and others, and from our national, county 
and district representatives.  The Somerset Gazette made it front 
page news with an excellent accompanying article.

This website will endeavour to provide up to date information as it 
becomes available.  The current information is sketchy but it will 
shortly be clarified after a public meeting to be held on the evening 
of Thursday 24th April at Neroche Hall, the village hall (see 
information below).  We will also publish links to other websites 
with information relevant to the situation in Neroche Parish.

The Crown Estate publishes its policy on rural housing on its 
website.  A copy of the web page, and a link to the site can be found below.

Time Line of what's known so far
(as of 19.4.2014)

Information provided by Vicky Pearson who has been coordinating the campaign

Early April

Residents notified that they have 2 to 4 months to purchase property or leave.

Uncertainty as to how many properties in Neroche Parish involved.

Vicky Pearson begins campaign to prevent evictions.  She contacts 
Cllr Ross Henly(Somerset County Council)and Cllr John Williams 
(Taunton Dean Borough Council).

Bickenhall Women's Institute sends out emails to our MP; County, 
District and Parish Councilors; and others, asking questions about 
what is happening. Replies offering support were received.

9th April

Cllr Ross Henly attends meeting with concerned residents.

14th April

A local resident makes a request under the Freedom of Information Act 
asking the Crown Estate what residential property it holds in 
Somerset and how many it has disposed of recently or plans to sell in 
the next 12 months.  Reply awaited.

15th April

Sarah Hyde, local resident and Deputy-editor of Somerset Gazette, 
meets concerned residents.

John Reed, Arch Deacon of Taunton, agrees to write in support.

16th April

The group organising the Annual Parish Meeting of Neroche Parish 
invites the campaign group to attend the Annual Parish Meeting on 
Thursday 1st May at Neroche Hall.

17th April

Other residents elsewhere in Taunton Crown Estate make contact and 
inform of notices to quit.

Somerset Gazette highlights the evictions on its front page, with an 
accompanying article inside.

18th April

Local resident produces website for campaign.  See 

Guardian Newspaper requests information on Crown Agents 
response.  Reply to questions currently being obtained.

23rd April

Thurloxton tenant to be interviewed on BBC Radio Somerset.

Request from Linconshire resident to join up with Forced Out to form 
a consolidated UK wide campaign and to use the forcedout.co.uk 
website.  Offer accepted.

24th April

Jeremy Browne, Member of Parliament for Taunton Deane, to meet Vicky 
Pearson, affected residents and supporters at her home to offer support.

Public Meeting in evening at Neroche Hall, the parish hall, open to 
allow affected residents, other Crown tenants and interested 
residents.  See flyer below.
Ross Henly (Somerset County councillor), John Williams (Taunton Dean 
Borough councillor), Jon Bell (Neroche Parish Council Chairman) and 
other parish councillors, and  the WI will attend, along with the press.

The purpose of the meeting is to find out more about the extent of 
the Crown Agents action; the affected residents' reaction to it; and 
to assist the residents to deal with the problem.

28th April

John Williams (TDBC councillor) to meet Crown Estate Agents.

29th April

Ross Henly (Somerset County Councillor) to meet Crown Estate agents.

29th April

Neroche Parish Council to hold Extraordinary Meeting to discuss 
problem and its response.


Notice to all Crown Estate tenants within Neroche Parish

and to concerned Parishioners

Emergency Meeting

to be held at Neroche Hall,Bickenhall

Thursday 24th April

at 7.00pm

(click here for directions)

The meeting aims to:

Share current information and action taken

     Establish an action group

Discuss and plan a way forward

Those attending include:

Cllr Ross Henly (Somerset County Council)

Cllr John Williams (Taunton Deane Borough Council)

Jon Bell, Chairman, and members of Neroche Parish Council

             Rev. Paul Reynolds and Rev. Mary Godin (Benefice representatives)

If you cannot attend but would wish to support your fellow parishioners

or would like to speak/contribute to the meeting, please contact

Vicky Pearson, Orchard Portman tenant, on 01823 327419

or email  vickyp at gmx.co.uk

Refreshments kindly donated and served by Bickenhall WI


Information on Crown Estate website page


          Rural Residental

What we do

Our portfolio of homes includes listed buildings and brand new modern 
homes, from one-bed terraces to large detached family houses.

We have over 700 rural residential tenancies, mainly former farm 
cottages and farmhouses. New lettings are on an assured shorthold 
(AST) basis and attract market value rents.
Our properties are situated across the UK and their day-to-day 
management is handled by local managing agents.
For more information on how to contact our agents, please visit: 
<http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/agents-a-z/>Agents A-Z.
We also sell as well as let properties in our portfolio. This year, 
2014, we have decided to sell a number of our properties across the 
portfolio in order to re-invest elsewhere.
Although an AST does not offer any guarantee that a tenant can remain 
in a property beyond the end of the contractual term and an owner is 
entitled to have vacant possession of the property on service of only 
two months' notice, we recognise that finding somewhere else to live 
in that space of time may be difficult. In our current sales 
programme we are presently able to provide substantially increased 
notice periods of up to six months (perhaps longer) depending on 
circumstances. Also, as part of the current sales programme we are 
offering to all tenants affected first refusal to buy the property 
before it is put on the open market.
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