Agents Eye Column – August

23rd August 2012

Lord Coe promised one of the most spectacular events that we would ever witness and by god, they certainly delivered. The most amazing 2 weeks of such diversified sport gripped us all; even those in the office not remotely interested in our day to day sports have been completely taken over by the thrill and excitement of the games.

The project was expertly delivered on time and on budget and project management is a skill that we are being more and more called upon in our day to day work. Succession planning is a good example; invariably the initial instruction is centred around value of the property and assets but what many of our clients require is someone to help them produce a plan and then execute that, ensuring that everything is done correctly, on time and on budget. We find it really important to have all the professionals involved, accountant, solicitor and bank manager to help provide input and bounce ideas around each other. It’s amazing how you start off on one route but end up with a completely different plan. The use of time charts is a great tool to help identify what jobs are to be done, by whom and when and I would strongly recommend using them on any type of project you get involved in with multiple parties.

Working for farmers throughout the north east, I deal with many different utility companies and personnel and its amazing the difference in attitudes and actions that we come across. As land owners/occupiers you need to be aware of the rights that such companies have and what they can and can’t do. Most are coming in under Acts that in some cases date back to 1840’s; quite unbelievable and in my eyes sometimes are abusing their powers of entry. The Acts, such as Water Act, Electricity Act etc, where originally granted to government bodies and are there to protect the interests and provide vital services to the nation. However, most of these companies have been privatised and therefore their focus of attention in most cases is now switched over to providing a return to the shareholders. Invariably, it is the land occupiers that are often overlooked and in many cases railroaded into agreeing entry and claims well below what in reality is the true loss to the business. We find project engineers are given tight budgets often well below what is needed to deliver the project and it is the landowner that suffers.

Having said that, where there is active engagement and terms of entry agreed before hand, we find that the works often go much smoother and problems such as drainage, crop losses, reinstatement etc are handled with a greater duty of care by the utility company and the dispute and poor works are avoided. There are plenty of examples where poor reinstatement is still causing significant problems on land and crop yields. Remember compensation applies to all land occupiers, be you farmer, householder, business owner or tenant.

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