Month: February 2010

An update on the communal garden

The Board keeps its various contractors under constant review and, as you will see from the attached section 20 notice, we are currently reviewing the gardening contract, both from a cost and performance view. This does not mean that we are unhappy with our present contractors, but it’s always good to get a fresh perspective from time to time and to check that our costs are competitive.

We are therefore approaching a number of contractors able to undertake the work to ask for tenders and will be pleased to add contractors recommended to the Board by residents.

It’s also a good time to find out what everyone thinks about the gardens. What your likes and dislikes are, what you’d like to see changed, what you’d like added, what you’d like taken away……………..

The Elgin Avenue frontage has had a similar planting scheme for some years. Are residents happy with that or are there suggestions for changes? In particular the dry areas at each end of the block have been rather dull – any thoughts on how they might be improved?

The Grantully Road side, in contrast to the sunny Elgin Avenue aspect, is in shade for the majority of the day throughout the year and so needs to consist principally of shrubs – pruning to shape and staggered flowering times form the pattern here.

For many residents who work hard during the week, the central garden represents an oasis of calm, especially during the summer evenings and weekends – visitors are inevitably envious.

The current layout does provide an interesting set up with non-aligned beds, trees and shrub borders giving different heights and secret corners. There are several quite large lawn areas and residents using the garden always seem to be able to find their own patch to enjoy. Some people like lots of grass, others like lots of plants, some like barbecues and parties, some like quiet restful space, some have ideas about landscaping – there’s even been a suggestion in the past for a swimming pool (sorry, much too expensive!).

You will have noticed that we have pruned some trees again this year as part of a regular programme. The grass will shortly be scarified (to removed accumulated mosses and weeds), aerated (to improve rooting and drainage) and reseeded. Certain areas of the grass are difficult to keep in prime condition, either due to tree shading, sunny and dry areas (heavily used in summer) or due to compacted and dry soil where building debris was dumped in the past.

Because of the shading of the central garden, in particular from the Elgin block, it essentially has the characteristics of a woodland garden and summer bedding plants, which require very sunny conditions, will not flourish. However, we will continue to gradually renew planting with flowering shrubs, winter flowering bulbs, roses, clematis etc.

The provision of garden seating and the barbeque has proved popular and helps residents enjoy warm spring and summer days, when we are so blessed!

Please let us know what you think – or even that you don’t care! Feel free to say anything at all – that way we get the gardens that we are all happy with.

John Sutcliffe.

garden@ashworthmansions.com

Summary of January 2010 Board Meeting

Water mains project

A document has been sent out to owners outlining progress to date and answering questions that they might raise.  It highlights what individual lessees need to do inside of their flat to complete the connection to the new supply.  The work will differ in each of the flats depending on how many and where the existing supplies come in and where the bathroom and kitchen is in relation to the new supply inlet valve.   A further letter was also sent asking owners to contact recommended companies to quote for the work to individual flats.

One of the companies, Quotehedge,  has attended 10 flats and has reported that it would be useful to identify the existing supplies by turning off the supply to each block and entering into as many flats as possible to ascertain where the supplies come from to each flat. It was agreed that it should be left to each individual flat owner to ask their own plumbers to identify the source of the existing supply on an individual basis.

Daron Tyas and Nigel King will attempt to gain access to all flats to check that the valves are in the “off” position. The water tank will then need to be chlorinated and the system pressurised to identify any possible leaks prior to attempting to connect to individual flats.

The consulting engineers have confirmed that there is no reason why a flat shouldn’t have more than one incoming supply. In principle, this means new pipework could be run around the external walls so reducing work within certain flats. It was agreed that Kfh would liaise directly with flat owners.

Garden

The  gardeners have recently written to Directors requesting a substantial  increase in their fees.  The large increase is partly due to the additional work that the gardeners have been doing since they originally quoted for the contract. It was decided that the gardening contract would be put out to tender, and kfh will issue the first Section 20 consultation notice shortly.

The electricians have suggested that the replacement lights that have been chosen to sit on the garden walls are too tall and will be easily broken. After much discussion, it was change the lights to a bollard type fitting in black, 700mm high.  Globe fittings will be ordered to go in the two positions in the centre of the lawn as per the original choice.

New lights are due to be installed to the entrances to the blocks in Grantully Road and this will take place at the same time as the garden lighting. It was agreed not to fit a 240v power supply at the end of the garden closest to the boiler room due to the expense. 

Wimbledon Tree Surgeons have completed pruning the trees. Daron is liaising more closely with the gardeners and the garden is looking neat and tidy.

Maintenance

The main entrance door frames have been painted.

The paving slabs to the rear of flats 56/65 are lifting and kfh has instructed a contractor to lift them to try to see what is happening below.   There is a history of damp in this area and we will instruct surveyors if necessary.

External refurbishment of Elgin Avenue frontage

The first stage section 20 consultation notices were sent out on 19th November with the consultation period ending on the 21st December.  No observations were received.   Tenders were expected back by the 27th January. After the board has considered the responses and the recommendations from SHW, a further consultation will be issued to flat owners before commencing work in the spring..

Individual flats

The owner of one flat is in the process of selling and has asked kfh for a copy of consent to alter the flat.  We have no records of this and kfh will ask the structural engineer to confirm that the wall she took out was not part of the main structural. 

During the sales process on another flat, it has come to light that the owner had let the flat out to a tenant on an agreement in excess of 12 months.  It was agreed to remind flat owners that they need to notify kfh if subletting for a period exceeding 12 months as the tenant needs to enter into a direct agreement with the Ashworth Mansions Ltd regarding service charges.

Following a complaint from one of the flats at the top of block 1, an engineer checked the  compensator and has adjusted it so that the heating does not go off at such a low outside temperature.  The owner of another flat, on the raised ground floor,  has said that the flat is now very warm and that the heating now runs for 24 hours a day. Kfh reported that the engineers said that they have not touched the timer. It was subsequently agreed to turn the heating off between 11pm and 6am.

Caretaker

A number of residents have expressed their thanks to Daron following all his hard work during the bad weather. He has been asked to clean the moss off of the low level walls to the Ashworth Road side of the block.

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