Before the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy in England and Wales in 2011, local authorities relied on agreements known as “build over agreements” to regulate development near sewers, drainage channels, and other types of underground infrastructure.
These agreements were designed to ensure that any development near underground infrastructure did not compromise the safety or functionality of the infrastructure itself. The agreements typically required developers to submit detailed plans and specifications for any proposed building work, which would then be reviewed by the local authority and relevant utility companies.
If the plans were approved, the developer would then be required to follow certain guidelines during the construction process to ensure that the infrastructure was not damaged. This might include using specific types of materials, avoiding excavations in certain areas, and taking steps to avoid causing vibrations that could damage pipes or cables.
Build over agreements were an important tool for local authorities in managing the impact of development on underground infrastructure. They helped to ensure that new development did not compromise the safety or functionality of critical services like water, gas, and electricity, while also protecting developers from potential liability if something went wrong.
However, with the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy in 2011, the role of build over agreements has diminished. The levy is a charge that local authorities can impose on new developments to fund infrastructure improvements in the area. Because it is a more streamlined and flexible system than the build over agreements, it has become the preferred method of regulating development near underground infrastructure.
That said, build over agreements are still used in certain situations. For example, they may be required if a development proposal is particularly complex or if there are concerns about the impact on nearby infrastructure. In some cases, they may also be used as a secondary measure to supplement the Community Infrastructure Levy.
Overall, build over agreements have played an important role in ensuring that new development does not damage critical underground infrastructure. While their use has declined in recent years, they remain an important tool for local authorities in managing the impact of development on the built environment.