ISSUES FOR CONVEYANCERS AND PROPERTY OWNERS
Following the transfer, there are a number of issues which conveyancers will need to bring to the attention of their clients:
- Access: The transfer has seen an increase in properties where a public asset is located within the property boundary. Water companies have statutory rights of access to land where their assets are located for maintenance purposes.
- Developing properties: Building over or near a public asset requires consent from the relevant water company. Local authorities are referring relevant planning applications to water companies, who have the power to insist their assets are protected or where necessary diverted as part of any development.
- Sewers which have been built over: transferred sewers which have been built over in the past will not have been approved by the water Ccmpany. In practice, these should be treated by water companies in the same way as sewers constructed prior to the 1937 transfer, in that, no objections will be raised, providing proper building control consents were obtained, and appropriate measures were taken to protect the sewers. Nevertheless, property owners need to be aware that water companies have rights to access these sewers should they require maintenance.
- Adoption agreements: Although the majority of assets currently subject to Section 104 agreements will, at some point transfer automatically under the secondary transfer, assets such as surface water sewers not discharging to the public system will not, and will still be subject to Section 104 agreements.
- On occasions newly transferred sewers may discharge into private pumping stations or sewers. Prior to the transfer this would never have happened. Any property owners who are liable for such sewers or pumping stations should be aware of this, and of any potential issues with them.
CHANGES TO DRAINAGE AND WATER SEARCHES
The CON29DW Drainage & Water Enquiry and the respective commercial searches have changed to reflect the new legislation. Sewer plans accompanying these searches are constantly being updated in line with water company data and show the most accurate record of public sewers available. Searches now contain guidance, where possible, on the potential for a transferred, unplotted sewer to be situated within the boundary of the property. Severn Trent Searches are also able to advise on which assets have and have not transferred, and consequently, any issues regarding potential liability for property owners.
Further information is available from the following sources: