One of Reading’s MPs has called upkeep charges for homes in Woodley ‘deeply unfair’ and ‘discriminatory’.

Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East, backed a proposed law change which would have reduced upkeep charges for leaseholders.

The rule change was proposed by Sir Mike Penning MP (Conservative, Hemel Hempstead), during a debate over  Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022.

It would have reduce ground rents for all existing residential long leases, meaning anyone with a lease of over 21 years could be charged only a ‘peppercorn rate’ of little to no financial value.

READ MORE: Reading MP hits out at Woodley developers over leaseholding

Advocating for the rule change, Mr Rodda mentioned upkeep charges collected from residents of the Loddon Park estate in Woodley which falls in his constituency.

During the debate, Mr Rodda said: “Loddon Park is an attractive new estate, built in the past few years in parkland on the edge of Woodley.

“There are several hundred properties, a mixture of owner-occupied and some social housing.

“There are many attractive ponds and features, including meadowland, in the development. Unfortunately, when the whole development was given planning permission, the local authority—mistakenly, I believe—allowed the site developer to charge upkeep for those common areas in perpetuity.

“There is no limit, as I understand it, to the charge that can be made.

“It is deeply unfair for normal householders—many of them have young families, are commuters who work locally and are facing, like many people across the country, significant rises in the cost of living—to face in addition ongoing costs for maintaining the landscape around their homes.

“Frankly, that is wrong.”

Mr Rodda made his speech during a debate in Parliament on Monday, January 24.

The amendment to reduce these maintenance costs for existing leaseholders as part of the Leasehold Reform Act did not make into law, as it was defeated by a majority of 144 votes.

READ MORE: Fears raised in Woodley over one way system proposal

Meanwhile, the executive member for planning at Wokingham Borough Council, the local authority Woodley falls under, said Mr Rodda had made an error in thinking that the council’s planning committee had mistakenly allowed the developers to charge leaseholders upkeep costs.

Councillor Wayne Smith (Conservative, Hurst) said: “Mr Rodda MP is incorrect in asserting that we ‘allowed’ the developer to charge upkeep for common areas at this site, or indeed that any error was made during the planning process.

“In deciding planning applications and imposing or enforcing conditions, our responsibility is to ensure that the developer provides the correct amount and standard of open space, as they did in this instance.

“They aren’t required to hand the site over to us for adoption and can instead arrange for it to be managed by private agreement between residents and the landowner or a management company, which is a common and entirely lawful practice.

“As such, this is a civil dispute between those parties. Its resolution would depend on the terms of their agreement, in which we have no involvement.”

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Loddon Park is managed by housing company Taylor Wimpey. Streets in the estate include Clover Rise, Bluebell Crescent and Jasmine Square.

Previously, Mr Rodda called the upkeep charges for leaseholders ‘discriminatory’.

The Leasehold Reform Act as passed only limits upkeep charges for newly created long term residential leases.