There were a few hiccups along the way of course - the anxious moment around the verge adoption (getting bored with those), the adjacent private house owners saying they were given permission years ago to move their fence line into the title, the locals saying they had used the site for years as a shortcut, and then the discovery that the layout didn't quite work when you applied to the Land Register for Development Plan Approval. Typical site acquisition, really.
Anyway, the Sales Department have been briefed and there is only one more thing to deal with before the site is ready for development - site energisation.
You're thinking that this should be straightforward - as the utility providers have been chosen, the sites for the gas governor and substation have been identified and the routes for the cables or pipes have been decided. However, this is an area which often involves a few difficulties, sometimes raised at the last minute.
Title transfer and servitude (or wayleave) rights
Utility suppliers generally take title to the small squares of ground needed for their electricity sub station or gas governor. They are also granted servitudes (sometimes called wayleaves) for the cable or pipelines running through the development site to those squares of ground.You're surprised to hear from the energy providers (at the last minute) that, despite the developer having provided all relevant information up front and in good time, they hadn't appreciated the precise location of old mineshafts on the site. Although the shafts are fully capped and closed, energy providers have a stand off zone for gas pipes relative to those shafts, and the proposed route for the pipeline servitude route fouls that zone. A redesign is now needed.
Utility suppliers are risk averse
The next thing that will strike you is utility suppliers' aversion to any kind of risk, in relation not only to the small areas of land transferred to them, but also the accesses to those areas and the routes of the pipes or cables.
In their de-risking strategy, they often ask for rights to rely on any work done by someone else or they look for an indemnity. That indemnity is usually from the developer, as owner of the site but - depending on the drafting - that could well place not only the developer, but also the eventual house buyers, in the firing line. For ever. (And when the first customer's solicitor picks it up as a reason not to conclude missives for the house, someone slightly scary from Sales will come looking for you…. )Let's explore this a bit further with a few examples.
Site investigation and environmental reports
The energy providers will want to see your site investigation/environmental reports, which is perhaps slightly against the usual "get your own reports and satisfy yourselves" approach, but that's fine - the site was fairly clean and there should be no issues. But they then want a reliance letter giving them recourse against your consultants under the report. If your consultants or their insurers are a bit awkward on that front, then you, the developer, will be asked to give the energy providers an indemnity.
That's a slightly odd concept - an environmental indemnity of the sort that you wouldn't for a moment consider in any other land sale, giving the transferee recourse against you, for ever. And they want that put in the title - meaning that your house buyers in turn could be liable. (All the toing and froing here is starting to eat into the timeline for the first house sale and you are getting anxious . . . )
If there has been any form of remediation of contamination on the site then the energy providers will want rights against those who did the remediation or those who signed off the job. If that isn't feasible - for example, you may have bought the site cleaned and certified by the previous owners or their consultants or contractors - then you are back to giving an indemnity, and the same concerns apply.