Did you know that all utility providers are obliged to obtain a formal permission from the appropriate council prior to starting any excavation works in the public highway?
Most utility installers will quote an approximate lead time of 6-8 weeks from the acceptance of their quotation to operational mobilisation. This gives them time to confirm that the appropriate design approvals are in place and to allocate their resource, it also allows time to liaise with the council to agree a start date for their works.
Did you also know that on occasion, there are additional factors which can impact on your programme?
In some areas, where the council deems a street to be sufficiently traffic sensitive or they deem the utility works to offer a danger to motorists and the general public, they will insist on a road closure. A road closure will incur an additional cost from the council with additional costs for sufficient traffic management but more importantly there are likely to be programme implications. Each council is different, they may have different volumes of work or different processes, but some authorities can take up to 12 weeks to approve a start date.
Another potential factor on your timescales is the planning of other works to be completed within the public highway close to your development. For example, if there is another development on the same street and they have scheduled their utility works first, your road opening notice may not be granted until they have finished working in the public highway.
Whilst collaborative working is sometimes possible, our experience confirms that it doesn't happen often. At first glance, a council will not just approve a road opening notice if another party already has one granted. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can plan for, but it is important to be aware of it.
Our advice to investors and developers is to initiate a utility review in the early stages of your development!
This will enable you to identify how the location of your development can generate costs which you have not planned for and any associated lengthy timescales which can potentially result in you incurring penalties on your funding agreements. Sometimes these things cannot be avoided but if they identified at an early stage it enables you to apply mitigating actions.