Paul Hooper, partner at Alder King said: “If you wanted to walk across someone’s land you would seek permission first, but did you know that that same rule also applies for the air above their land or building? If you are a developer using a crane this is vital information to consider.”
If a crane is being used on a building development, it will more than likely need to oversail neighbouring land. If rights have not been negotiated with all the relevant neighbours, then the works could be subject to legal injunction, which will be costly for the developer in time and money.
Paul explained: “Longstanding legal principle had us believe rights over land extend from the core of the earth infinitely upward and so on this basis, when developers use a tower crane during construction a real risk occurs of repeated trespass, especially if the development is in a built up area.
“You do not need to cause damage to the property for your neighbours to obtain an injunction to stop you using your crane if you have not asked their permission before starting works. In simple fact the boom of a crane oversails neighbouring land has held in the courts to constitute trespass and injunctions have been granted on this basis stopping work on the development.”
Paul says: “My overriding advice to any developer, which applies equally to all types of neighbourly negotiations, is be aware of your legal obligations. It is nearly always best to negotiate a licence or other robust agreement in relation to crane oversail early within the development process, leaving ample time within the development timeframe and to turn to the court only where a neighbour will not adopt a reasonable approach.
In some cases developers can reduce oversail by choosing an alternative type of crane, for example self erecting, which can limit the need to oversail neighbouring land. However this is a decision that must be made in the design process of the development and in some cases a tower crane will be essential.
Paul Hooper BSc (Hons) MRICS is a partner within Alder King’s Bristol Building Consultancy Team, and would be pleased to provide advice to both developer’s and neighbouring owner’s regarding all aspects of neighbourly agreements. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 0117 317 1155.
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