We have a plot near Bury St.Edmiunds, slightly odd shape but roughly running north / south with an electricity pole in thenorth east corner. From the pole an underground 240V single phase supply has been run to the local village hall with the cable running approx 600mm off our eastern boundary for approx 1/2 the length of the site c25 / 30m then going off across our neighbours land to the east. The cable has an easement agreement which was made by the previous owner which effectively means that an area 2m either side of the cable run can’t be built on (indeed if taken absolutely strictly you can’t do anything on it, even garden). The footprint of our new build will encroach onto this exclusion zone in the north east corner of the footpring, literally the corner comes to about 1m away from the cable so a total area of encroachement fo 3 to 4m2 at the most. Originally our Architect didn’t seem to think this would even be an issue but more recently I was advised to contact Network Power as it could be a problem later if we hadn’t told them, I took some legal advise which supported this so we’ve approached Network Power asking them to vary the easement and making it clear that we would be willing to undertake any reasonable measures to enable this, i.e. deeper foundations, bridging or ducting of the cable to ensure no stress is imposed onto the cable. Their response has been a categoric no with no explanation of why this should be, only reiterating that the terms of the easement wouldn’t allow this. Can you advise us if there is a better way of approaching this, we’d really like to reach a compromise and going back to the drawing board now when we’re about to go out to tender will cost us time and money and most likely mean reapplying for planning if we have to move the house footprint on the site all of which seems disproportionate when LV cables like this are regualarly laid in a lot closer proximity to buildings and other services in urban areas. Is there anything we can do, an ombudsman etc? Thanks for any advice or help you can offer. Kind regards. Pete Millie (Frustrated of Cambridgeshire).

  • Rachel Haynes

    Hi Pete, we’ve dealt with easements for drainage in the past and generally found that talking to someone on site is always best. Sending information to a faceless person at a desk always seems to get a negative and/or easiest response. Ask if Network Power have an Area Surveyor who can come out to visit you and your architect (have you got a services engineer in the design team – invite them too if you have) and talk though your situation, the position of the cable and any standard building details/ directives that NP may have for building close to a power line. From our experience this is constructive and as long as you approach it with an open mind, can open up solutions.

    As I said, we have only done this with the likes of Sever Trent Water rather than a power supplier but I would hope the same would apply – it may be worth a go. I would leave the ombudsman as a last resort.

    Hope this is of use.

  • Jeremy Murfitt

    Rachel is quite right, a site meeting is the best approach, assuming you can get them out. It does sound from your description as if the property is going to be very close to the boundary, does that in itself cause any other issues. Another thing to bear in mind is your mortgagor if you are financing the build that way. A mortgagor could (rather should) have concerns if the property is built over the easement as it impacts the value of their loan. Another thought I wonder if it would be possible to move the cable sideways within the easement? This would result in the cable being further away from your property although you would still have to resolve the legal issue.

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