It is the norm on our linear projects to negotiate voluntary agreements with affected parties and only consider enforcing their powers as a ‘last resort’.
Negotiations can be lengthy and drawn out and there is a limit as to how long those negotiations can go on for. However, it is possible to run those negotiations in parallel with certain stages of implementing compulsory rights, although landowners can consider the service of notices to be a hostile alternative to negotiations.
On a project in Lincolnshire, Dalcour Maclaren was instructed to engage with 120 landowners over 700 parcels of land to secure access under a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the construction of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
Dalcour Maclaren negotiated Option Agreements with landowners, under which the scheme would be constructed, and a Deed of Easement would follow once as laid plans were available. However, as the scheme started to progress rapidly, contractors required access at much shorter notice, and so our approach was reviewed to streamline the process of taking entry.
With advice from the client’s solicitors, we agreed that access to construct would be done under the Temporary Possession measures afforded to them under the DCO, by serving a Notice of Entry on each land parcel. The client would then continue to negotiate and complete the Option and Easement Agreements during construction to ensure that rights were secured once the Temporary Possession period expires.
As notices had to be served on every party with an interest in the affected land, over 2,000 notices were served over a 6-month period.
Our careful data management systems and processes enabled our skilled team, with their specialist knowledge of the delivery of DCO’s, to serve every notice without subsequent rebuttal or refusal of access. The documentation of the Deeds of Easement will follow after the construction of the scheme is complete.
This is a demonstration of notice powers being used to their full potential whilst maintaining landowner relationships and the client’s reputation.