London,
26
July
2016
|
11:11
Europe/Amsterdam

Standardised toolkit helps London businesses get faster access to broadband

A new standardised legal document which will speed up the process for businesses to get superfast broadband has been published by the City of London Corporation today.

The Corporation has been working with London’s main developers, landlords, broadband operators, property managers, government, legal firms and key trade associations to produce a set of tools to make it easier and faster to agree digital connections. A key element is a standardised legal agreement - known as a wayleave. The Land Law Committee of the City of London Law Society led the drafting process.

Previously, business tenants faced long negotiations with providers to agree new wayleaves from scratch each time they wanted to get broadband fibre installed. This cost all parties involved time and money and will hopefully see waiting times for installation reduced from as much as a year to a few weeks because they can use the standardised document. Some businesses have even been forced to occupy new office space with no access to broadband due to the time taken to agree wayleaves, significantly affecting their business operations.

The consensus reached among all those parties involved in project means the City’s toolkit should be widely used. The toolkit will be promoted in all major commercial property developments through London borough planning policy. Brookfield & Oxford Properties intend to be amongst the first to use it at their 500,000 sq ft landmark development at London Wall Place.

The backing of the Department of Culture Media & Sport and the Mayor of London was warmly welcomed by Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, Mark Boleat, who said:

“Broadband is the lifeblood for successful firms so it is essential they have access to high-speed internet when they move in. Any efforts which reduce the time and cost in getting superfast broadband in the capital are a welcome step. It has been great to see so many interested parties pulling in the same direction to get this legal template agreed.”

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy London Mayor for Business, said:

“As someone who ran a fintech business, I know poor digital connectivity can be a major barrier for growth. We need to do everything possible to help our businesses to thrive, particularly following the recent decision to leave the European Union. Sadiq was elected on a pledge to treat digital infrastructure with the same priority as other key public utilities and this agreement will reduce the time, uncertainty and cost of installing broadband fibre for numerous businesses, helping them to flourish and deliver growth across the city.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, British Property Federation, UK Competitive Telecoms Association, the Independent Networks Cooperation Association and the major broadband providers were very closely involved in the drafting of the agreement. James Kavanagh, Director Land Group, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said:

“The standardization of urban wayleaves are critically important to telecommunications connectivity and high technology use within the built environment. Commercial real estate needs to operate and connect to global telecommunication systems and a modern standardised ‘wayleave’ agreement is an enormous step towards easing the development process and providing high speed services to owners and occupiers.”

Cllr Claire Kober, Chair of London Councils, said:

“London boroughs are constantly looking for ways to attract businesses, but the process of installing broadband in business premises has long been an exasperating task. This new toolkit will reduce the process from months to weeks, allowing local areas to reap the benefits of economic growth much more quickly. We look forward to promoting it across the capital, and seeing a London-led initiative roll out across the country.”

William Newton, UK Director, Wired Score (delivering Mayor of London’s Connectivity Rating Scheme) said:

"Landlords, internet providers and businesses frequently tell us about how painful and tedious the process of wayleaves can be- sometimes delaying connections to the internet for months. The City of London's standardised wayleave is a much needed innovation, that will ultimately help get the UK's businesses connected to the internet sooner, and growing faster."

Matthew Evans, CEO of the Broadband Stakeholder Group, said:

“Securing agreement on a standardised wayleave is a big step forward for the telecoms and property industries – and most importantly for companies operating in London. High quality, reliable connectivity has been shown to drive productivity growth in all sectors of the economy. Without these connections, moving businesses critical applications to the cloud, home working and teleconferencing are often impossible for firms to do with confidence.”

Alison Hardy, partner at Squire Patton Boggs, said:

“Many businesses struggle to get access to high speed broadband and this can have a significant impact. This new standard form wayleave is intended to speed up the process to ensure that companies are ‘open for business’ on day one.”

John Dickie, Director of Strategy & Policy at London First, said:

“If London is to remain competitive as a global business centre, companies need to be able to “plug and play”, and the City’s standardised wayleave project will allow faster telecoms connections and save businesses time and money.”

Warren Gordon, Head of Real Estate Know How at Olswang LLP and secretary of the Land Law Committee of the City of London Law Society, said:

“The Land Law Committee of the City of London Law Society welcomes the launch of the Digital Infrastructure Wayleave Agreement. It was an honour for the Committee to be part of the process working together with operators, property owners and other interested parties to create an industry standard document for fixed line installations.”

Charles Begley, Executive Director of the City & Westminster Property Associations, said

“This is an important body of work which will help simplify and speed up the often torturous process of getting essential utilities into new buildings. The current system is clearly not fit for purpose and is adding unnecessary costs and delays to London businesses at a time when we need to be focusing on our competitiveness in the face of growing international competition.”

Notes to editors

The toolkit can be found here: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/standardisedwayleavetoolkit

For more information please contact:

Ian Schofield, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

0207 332 1906 / 077 2563 4564 / ian.schofield@cityoflondon.gov.uk

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation provides local government and policing services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the 'Square Mile'. In addition, the City Corporation has three roles:

  • We support London’s communities by working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on economic regeneration, education and skills projects. In addition, the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust makes grants of around £20 million annually to charitable projects across London and we also support education with three independent schools, three City Academies, a primary school and the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
  • We also help look after key London’s heritage and green spaces including Tower Bridge, Museum of London, Barbican Arts Centre, City gardens, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches, and important ‘commons’ in south London.
  • We also support and promote the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events and research-driven policies all reflecting a long-term approach.

See www.cityoflondon.gov.uk for more details.