Partner and Head of Commercial Property and planning Robbie Mather explains infrastructure agreements: a set of documents that are put in place during the construction of new housing estates.
Infrastructure agreements are documents that a builder or developer puts in place when building a new housing estate. These agreements provide for services to the new dwellings, including gas and electricity, and also enable roads to be “adopted”.
New homes, of course, need electricity and many have gas. The builder will enter into a “Deed of Grant of Easement” directly with the gas and electricity providers, meaning that new homes can be lit and heated as soon as the property is built.
Developers can choose to build a private road on a new estate, or alternatively build a road to “adoptable standards” (meaning rules are followed when constructing the road on matters such as materials used and use of pavements and lampposts). Roads built to adoptable standards are adopted by the Local Authority and the developer enters into a “Section 38 Agreement” with the Local Authority to show the road is to be adopted. Once constructed, the Council will then forever after maintain the road (pot-holes and all!).
Telephone/broadband services are provided by a “Wayleave Agreement” which the developer enters into with BT. Telecommunications cables are installed at the estate during the course of building the houses (often under the estate road or in the front gardens of the dwellings). The new owner then just arranges the connection direct with their telephone provider.
On move-in day, that first cup of tea in a new home is all-important! Turning the tap on and expecting clean water is a given in the UK. Being able to flush the toilet is also an essential. This is made possible because the builder will have entered into a “Section 104 Agreement” with the water company, whereby the builder agrees to construct the waste water pipes under the estate to an “adoptable” standard. The water company in turn agrees to “adopt” the sewers and connect them to their waste water network.
Infrastructure agreements are drafted in a “standard form” by utility companies/local authorities and amendments to the documents are discouraged. However it is possible to “tweak” clauses to make agreements more favourable to developers (such as ensuring the utility company is only granted rights over part of the developer’s land, rather than the whole site) - and that’s where we come in!
If you are a builder or developer and would like any advice please contact Robbie Mather, Partner and Head of Commercial Property and planningt firstname.lastname@example.org.