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  1.  
    (deliberately named to distinguish from the other thread here:
    http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=15161&page=1#Item_22)

    In a way we've hit almost the opposite problem to marsaday. Our site is accessible via an adopted road that becomes a private road halfway down. The owner of this road also owns the site to the south of our land which happens to have the mains sewer below it. We basically need to connect into the sewer on their land by digging a trench in this private road.

    After contacting the owner several months ago, initially everything seemed fine. They were fairly enthusiastic about new development as they're developing their land soon too. We sent them outline drawings of the scheme and agreed to meet. They now haven't showed up to at least 3 arranged meetings and are now no longer answering the only number we have for them or any e-mails.

    As I understand it we're now in a stalemate position where we can't proceed with the works without their written consent. All the forms etc. required need this and unlike party wall agreements there is no option to serve notice and then default to a legal recourse.

    We have no physical address for them to serve any form of legal notice anyway, besides which this wouldn't get us any closer to having the written consent if this is just an empty 'PO box' arrangement.

    Anyone got any ideas/workarounds for how we might persuade the utilities companies that we can get on with the work regardless? There seems to be a bit of disagreement over whether these companies have compulsory powers to proceed when it isn't an emergency (no leak on owner's land).
    • CommentAuthormarsaday
    • CommentTimeJul 10th 2017
     
    Monkey finder is excellent at finding people. Think it is £100 to track someone down.

    I remember watching the "build the dream" programme late last year i think and the developers were teachers and embarked on their first self build. They had a lot of issues getting water/electric and sewage piping into the property as they had to get to the property via someones elses access. I think they had to pay a good amount of money to do what they needed. I think it was in the teens of thousands.

    Not sure if this may apply to you.

    I know we can tap into the main sewer generally and this costs £10k ish. So i imagine if you are going to be tapping into a sewer which is actually someones already, then they will be expecting a similar payment.

    Any way thats all i know about these issues. someone may correct me, but thought i would post as i know how important this info can be.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 10th 2017
     
    According to https://www.stwater.co.uk/content/dam/stw/stw_buildinganddeveloping/Sewerage-supply_connections_guidance.pdf :

    "Should the public sewer you wish to connect to be located in private land you will need
    to gain permission to excavate the pipe and make the connection. If all reasonable methods of
    gaining permission have been exhausted you can complete an Application for a sewer requisition
    or a lateral drain connection under Section 98 of the Water Industry Act 1991 form available
    from New Connections."

    Since your access to the site depends on the same owner as the land under which the sewer flows, it would seem important to maintain good relations. Presumably you have a deed or covenant that gives you rights over the road and perhaps obliges you to contribute to maintenance of the road. I don't see how that would work without a name, signature and address of the owner?

    It may be that a long-established local solicitor might be able to help, or perhaps a local councillor. The Land Registry may have ownership details of course, but I presume you have explored this possibility.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeJul 11th 2017
     
    Their reticence may be to do with drain sizes.
    The current drain from their property may be 110mm or 4" and they also wish to connect into that 4" pipe with their new development.
    If you also connect into their current 4" drain upstream with another 4" ,it may well mean that they have to upgrade some of their connection to the main sewer to 6" or have a new sewer connection.

    Just a thought.
  2.  
    Thanks for all the comments.

    Posted By: djh
    Since your access to the site depends on the same owner as the land under which the sewer flows, it would seem important to maintain good relations. Presumably you have a deed or covenant that gives you rights over the road and perhaps obliges you to contribute to maintenance of the road. I don't see how that would work without a name, signature and address of the owner?

    It may be that a long-established local solicitor might be able to help, or perhaps a local councillor. The Land Registry may have ownership details of course, but I presume you have explored this possibility.


    Yes we certainly want to maintain good relations and our current rate of calling him once every hour is probably stretching this..! After 10 months with no results though, the patience does wear thin. Thanks for the tip on sewer requisition - we may have to resort to this if nothing else works.

    We have a right of access over the road and the land registry did yield an address for the owner, however a quick pass on streetview suggested this might just be a letter drop arrangement rather than an actual occupied property.

    From speaking to neighbours yesterday though, they have previously used this forwarding address for successful legal negotiations, so we'll be trying to contact them the old fashioned way next.

    If they don't respond to a letter then I think that constitutes exhausting all the usual methods.

    Posted By: owlman
    If you also connect into their current 4" drain upstream with another 4" ,it may well mean that they have to upgrade some of their connection to the main sewer to 6" or have a new sewer connection.


    That's an interesting one. Since the whole area is on a hill (with the drain running perpendicular to the slope), I'm not sure that they are likely to want to connect into it since it is effectively uphill from where they will build. To be honest the sewer is probably more of an annoyance than anything else. I suspect they just want to know what we are planning to do and that we will put it right again afterwards. Once they answer the phone I can tell them..!
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJul 11th 2017 edited
     
    It's been awhile but I remember reading that the water companies are sometimes reluctant to use their powers under Section 98 of the Water Industry Act 1991. They seem happy to do it for a large development but less so for an individual property.

    Thomas - Who did you buy the plot from? Normally you would insist the seller sort out any access problems or at least make the purchase subject to it being sorted, otherwise it's a risky purchase. In cases where permission is required you sometimes find the words "and permission will not be unreasonably withheld".

    Try looking up the owners name on web sites with access to the Electoral Roll?

    Do the title deeds for the road have a service address on them? Copies of title deeds available online at the land registry for a few £ in a few mins. Beware the large number of fake land registry web sites. EDIT: Cross posted with yours above.
  3.  
    Posted By: CWatters
    Who did you buy the plot from? Normally you would insist the seller sort out any access problems or at least make the purchase subject to it being sorted, otherwise it's a risky purchase.


    We bought the plot (with planning permission) from our neighbour to the North - essentially a section of the end of their garden. At the time it didn't appear to be a risky purchase as the road owner was fairly approachable initially.

    In hindsight we should have sought their consent from day one, but then we didn't have a fully worked out drainage scheme at the time...
  4.  
    Posted By: Doubting_ThomasIf they don't respond to a letter then I think that constitutes exhausting all the usual methods.

    Once things have gone as far as you detail then IMO it is a waste of time to telephone - which anyway is deniable later - and everything should be done by registered recorded letter. e.g.if you have an address from land registry then send a registered recorded delivery letter, that way you can show that you have exhausted all usual methods.

    If you eventually want to proceed in their absence then you will need everything documented and even then the authority will be reluctant because they don't like (problematic) work.
  5.  
    UPDATE

    So the worst case scenario has played out - the absentee land owner has now responded to our recorded delivery letter stating that we can not only NOT dig in his road but that we cannot even drive over it to get to our land.

    We're fairly sure the latter is not enforceable but we are now having to get legal advice on this and it has all got rather expensive.

    Word of warning to those considering any plot purchase, make darn sure you get a written agreement from anyone who can cause problems before you put any money down. Good will is very prone to evaporate on a whim it seems, even without any cause.

    Wish us luck!
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017
     
    Good luck. Unfortunately ransom strips (be they preventing physical access or access to services) can turn out to be expensive to overcome. Courts have ruled in the past that the owner of the ransom strip is entitled to about a third of the uplift in value that removing it produces.

    http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/glossary/ransom-strips/

    Hopefully there is an alternative (longer) route to the sewer available or perhaps a sewerage treatment plant would be a viable alternative for you? That way they might only be able to hit you for a third of the cost of that not the whole plot.
  6.  
    ''Hopefully there is an alternative (longer) route to the sewer available or perhaps a sewerage treatment plant would be a viable alternative for you? That way they might only be able to hit you for a third of the cost of that not the whole plot.''

    But if I understand D_T's post correctly, it's not (just) the drain that is being denied access to D_T's site, it's D_T! Have I read that correctly? I take it there is not an alternative that gets you access down the side of the Northern neighbour, from whom you bought the land?

    I too wish you good fortune.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017
     
    Got to wonder what his solicitor was doing allowing him to purchase the property without these issues being sorted. Don't solicitors they have a duty to protect a client from making a mistake?
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017
     
    If it turns out that DT's right of access over the road is faulty then I think he'd have a very good case against his solicitor. A right to dig up the road to lay services, perhaps less so. In my case I remember checking that our solicitor was going to write such a right into our land purchase agreement but I don't remember whether she had intended to do so without my reminder. I do remember that the time taken checking such things and permits with the environment agency etc very nearly wrecked our purchase.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017
     
    Our solicitor was pretty casual about the whole conveyancing thing. It was me who checked who owned the grass verge and did all the other due diligence checks before getting him involved.

    Some years later I walked past his office to find it closed down! That was a bit of a shock as he was holding the deeds in his safe along with our Wills. Yes I know the LR has the official stuff but even so it's nice to keep all the old paperwork together. When I googled him I found a newspaper article mentioning that the company had been closed down due to some irregularity with client money or something like that. Eventually I located a company that had been appointed to look after client papers and managed to get our file back.
  7.  
    We found a couple of days before completion that we did not own our drive!! Happily the neighbour agreed to 'give it to us', but it was far from straightforward and we found out by going and asking the neighbour. The solicitor did nothing to help us find this issue.
  8.  
    Thanks everyone,

    Yes, we're facing the prospect of no access at all, even to sit on the land and weep (!) but I remain confident we can argue the case on that one.

    Services wise I've had another look and we have contingency plans in place for most of it, it's just not the 'easy' route on each one, so remains annoying if not impossible. Any tips on Biodigesters instead of sewer mains anyone?!

    As for solicitor input, we're checking back on what they did and said at the time. The truth is I don't think anyone anticipated this from what was a fairly amicable arrangement at the time. Caveat Emptor...
  9.  
    I'm afraid that in my experience
    Posted By: Doubting_Thomasa fairly amicable arrangement at the time

    means nothing unless it is in writing
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