There are many examples of the value of undertaking comprehensive due diligence at the feasibility and design stages of development projects. This case study highlights the impact when things go wrong and also describes how a Utility Report can mitigate the risks.
A Developer successfully bid to a Local Authority to build a new Primary School and construct over 200 apartments on a site in West London. Due to the criticality of maintaining the existing school and managing the build programme around term times, contracts were signed committing completion on a very tight project timeline.
During the tender stage, utility record searches were undertaken and the results plotted on an existing utility record drawing. The search identified an electricity cable crossing the site, in a location that meant it would have to be diverted to allow construction of the apartments. This information was used to develop project costs with an allowance made for moving standard cables as well as an appropriate time scale built into the project plan. Contracts were signed based on this information and the assumptions made around costs and timescales to move the cable.
To support the next stage, development of the utility strategy for the site and manage the procurement of utility services, Premier Energy Services Ltd (PES) were appointed as Utility Consultants for the scheme by the Developer. Immediately on appointment a comprehensive review of the work completed to date by others was undertaken by PES. The need to divert an electricity cable was also identified but due to the specialist nature of the cable involved (a gas filled cable operating at 66,000 volts), it was estimated as £1m of cost and a timescale of 18 months to complete the work. The contracts had been signed assuming £200,000 costs and 6-8 months’ timeline! These assumptions were made as during tender, the utility records were misinterpreted by non PES staff who were not familiar or expert in utilities and as a result a £50m build programme was now at risk.
The world of utilities is complex, there are hundreds of organisations who own and operate the utility networks serving our home and businesses. The range and scale of the utility network does mean that it can place significant constraints on land due for development. Any developer who wants to ensure that they properly understand utility constraints must ensure that they procure a utility record search report prior to exchange of contracts.
Groundsure Premier Utility Searches
We always recommend that during the feasibility phase of any project Clients undertake a Groundsure Premier Utilities Search which includes;
- A comprehensive utility record search
If the project described in this case study had undertaken a Utility Record Search then the Developer might not find themselves facing significant cost and time penalties sunder contract.
At PES we have a consultancy team with over 150 years’ combined experience in utilities, our products and services are delivered to Groundsure by a team that are experienced and professional. Properly managed utility information can help you deliver projects on-time and on-budget.