Access – The importance of an early approach

Sunday, 22nd July 2018 | by: Justin Burns

Where access requires the express consent of an adjoining owner, such as to erect scaffolding and a hoarding as part of a demolition programme, there are no statutory timescales but there are many benefits to an early approach.

In some cases, the scheme is simply not viable without access so if there’s an adjoining owner who will not allow it at any cost the building owner would benefit from knowing before they waste money on professional and application fees. This scenario is thankfully relatively rare.

A more common scenario is where an adjoining owner requests an unrealistically high consideration. This may make the scheme uneconomical but at least the building owner’s team can produce figures as part of a negotiation process with a view to agreeing a more realistic consideration. If the adjoining owner digs their heels in then a re-design may need to be considered.

It can also take some time to establish who the affected adjoining owners are. The affected properties can usually be identified relatively easily using Land Registry maps but the only public information available on the owners will be their correspondence address. In a high proportion of cases the owner will have moved on and rented the property out but not updated their correspondence address at the Land Registry. It will often then be a case of knocking on doors, asking tenants to pass messages on or obtaining managing agents’ details and trying that route. This can be a very drawn out process.

We would normally recommend initiating this process as soon as the architectural drawings are available. Ideally a block plan will have been prepared with the footprint of the scaffold marked on it and this would be sufficient for an initial contact.

Although it may add to the costs we would also recommend suggesting to an adjoining owner that they take advice from a surveyor from the outset and provide an undertaking to cover that surveyor’s reasonable fees. Progress is likely to be much swifter when dealing with a surveyor rather than a busy adjoining owner. In all likelihood they will take advice from a surveyor later anyway so in most cases the overall cost will be the same.

If you require advice regarding access for scaffolding, a hoarding or to oversail a crane you are welcome to contact us for some advice on 020 7183 2578 or by email.