Digital infrastructure toolkit: London
24 February 2017
Philip Saunders and Steven Bage explain the background to the City of London’s new digital infrastructure toolkit, designed to improve broadband connection times
The rate at which London's infrastructure changes is astounding; but as the digital element of this has received too little attention to date, the pace of change in future will never be slower than it is today.
The discussion is now changing, however. The City of London Corporation has long worked to secure the capital's position as a global business hub. As part of its work, the corporation has led a multi-industry group of stakeholders with the aim of reducing the time taken to install digital infrastructure, and has produced a Standardised Wayleave Toolkit.
Recent government estimates on the digital sector's contribution to the UK economy find that it provides around 1.4m jobs, supports the export of digital goods and services worth £43bn and contributes a gross value added of £118.3bn. Alongside these figures, it is important to remember that almost the entire professional services sector relies on digital connectivity, whether on trading floors or drafting architects' drawings.
Recent government estimates on the digital sector's contribution to the UK economy find that it provides around 1.4m jobs, supports the export of digital goods and services worth £43bn and contributes a gross value added of £118.3bn
But little progress had been made on the speedy installation of digital infrastructure. In the Square Mile, businesses might still wait more than 6 months for a connection, and we know of some that have had to move into premises without broadband. More than 90% of the businesses in the City are SMEs and are particularly disadvantaged by delays.
We identified that legal agreements between broadband providers and customers – whether developers, landlords or tenants – are one of the main obstacles to swift installation of digital infrastructure. The repeated negotiations between parties, the redrafting of agreements and the lack of a standardised approach were highlighted as particular problems in reaching agreement.
We worked with the British Standards Institution and used its project management skills to accommodate all interests. The City of London Law Society, representatives of developers, telecoms providers, institutional landlords and trade bodies joined a stakeholder group, and the City led the negotiations to establish a consensus, with RICS and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport both supporting the project throughout. Around 25 organisations devoted considerable resources to reaching agreement, and a further 100 stakeholders commented and engaged.
Scope of the toolkit
Having built a consensus around a standardised legal agreement, the City published its Standardised Wayleave Toolkit.
- a standardised wayleave agreement with footnotes, optional clauses and definitions; the agreement relates to individual tenant fixed-line and wireless, but not mobile, telecommunication service connections, and does not extend to cover public network infrastructure apparatus
- narrative guidance explaining the most efficient way to approach negotiations, describing certain clauses in the wayleave and outlining alternative approaches; it also explains the importance of early provision of plans and diagrams
- a model risk assessment method statement (RAMS)
- a flow chart of the steps required in reaching agreement
- a contact list for key personnel.
Save where certain clauses are updated or deleted, users should in most cases find the wayleave requires no amendment. The standardised approach covers the rights and obligations of all parties, alterations, lift and shift arrangements, assignment, indemnity and termination.
The narrative guidance note is a resource for those who are new to the process of agreeing wayleaves, setting out the main considerations based on all our stakeholders’ experiences to help parties understand each other’s key concerns.
It is hoped that the toolkit will be used in most instances, but individual circumstances may require amendments and revisions. Even where the agreement is changed, having a common starting point should ensure that parties reach consensus in a relatively short time.
The toolkit is free for all to use. We would welcome comments for future editions, and will publish updates from time to time; please email the authors of this article for details.
Now more than ever, London and the UK need to show they are open for business. This toolkit helps to meet that challenge.
Philip Saunders is Parliamentary Affairs Counsel at the City of London; Steven Bage is Strategic Infrastructure Advisor in the City Property Advisory Team
Related competencies include:
This feature was taken from the RICS Land journal (December 2016/January 2017)