How Much Will Access Cost

Where an adjoining owner’s express consent is required for scaffold, hoarding or crane access such consent will generally be subject to conditions and one of the more contentious conditions is the payment of a consideration.

This will generally be in the form of a weekly payment for a fixed period with a more punitive sum payable in respect of any over-run.

An adjoining owner can request any amount they wish but their negotiating strength will depend upon what alternative options are available to the building owner. A good example would be a situation where a developer could complete the works with the use of either a standard tower crane or a crane with a considerably more expensive luffing jib which was capable of working within a tighter radius and thus removing the need for access.

In such circumstances the quantum of any payment might be based on the additional cost associated with the alternative option.

If there are no alternatives available the quantum of any consideration should be at least loosely based on the circumstances rather than plucked out of the air by the adjoining owners. The payment should reflect:

  1. The inconvenience suffered by the adjoining owner e.g. by the loss of a portion of their land. If the land that is put out of use is a drive way the inconvenience suffered would be much greater than losing a narrow strip at the end of the garden.
  2. Reduced living conditions due to loss of light. This would obviously be more significant if it is the light to a living room or kitchen that is injured as opposed to, say, a bathroom.
  3. Disturbance from noise, vibration or dust associated with the works. The conditions within the Licence should endeavour to alleviate these issues.

None of these are generally easy to quantify but an experienced surveyor should have a frame of reference upon which to base advice.

Where a developer erects a crane and oversails an adjoining owner’s land without agreement the adjoining owner has 2 remedies available to them; an injunction or the payment of a Licence fee through court proceedings (compensation). However, if they peruse the latter option they cannot hold the contractor to ransom by demanding an unreasonably high sum.

In Woolerton & Wilson v Richard Costain Ltd [1970] an adjoining owner entered negotiations with the contractor but refused the contractor’s offer of £250 per week plus a promise to insure against any damage that might be caused. When the contractor erected the crane the adjoining owner applied to court for an injunction.  The court granted the injunction but suspended it for 2 years (which would take it beyod the required period of access). Courts will therefore consider at a wide range of issues including whether or not the contractor has acted reasonably in offering payment for a licence fee.

It is occasionally in the adjoining owner’s interest to agree reciprocal rights as an alternative to a cash consideration. If an adjoining owner is likely to require access for their own works in the future this would be a way of ensuring that they get it. Any such agreement would need to be registered against both titles at the Land Registry and be binding upon successors in title.

If you require any advice on matters relating to access please do not hesitate to contact us either via email or on 020 7183 2578

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