United Utilities first to unveil indicative developer charging scheme

United Utilities has unveiled a new framework for water and sewerage connection charges at its annual Developer Forum event.

Representatives involved in new development met with the water company to discuss what the proposed new charging framework would mean in detail, including draft charges.

It’s the culmination of 2 years’ work with stakeholders from across the development industry including the Home Builders Federation, House Builders Association, property developers, design consultants, self-lay providers, NAVs and local authority planners.

Paula Vickers, Head of Developer Services and Planning at United Utilities, said: “We have been looking at the revised guidance to improve the charging framework for developers. We want to make the charges fairer, more transparent and easier for customers to understand the kind of costs involved. It’s also really important to us that we develop a framework, in consultation with our customers, to ensure we are not only facilitating development and house building in the North West, but also to promote competition and sustainable development.”

“We’re now the first UK water company to share these indicative charges with our stakeholders in the property development industry.”

“Increasingly we see more and more evidence of changing weather patterns such as frequent heavy rainstorms and it’s critical that developers now consider climate change from the outset of their plans. We can play our part by setting infrastructure and connection charges that incentivise and encourage a sustainable approach by developers and reward those that build in a way to mitigate the impact on the existing network.”

United Utilities has already carried out two focus group sessions and a written consultation to understand what developers want to see in the new charging scheme.
The proposed new charging principles work on a “no surprises” basis. Paula explained: “The old charging structure was very complex so we have suggested a fixed fee approach for many aspects and a standardised menu of charges for construction activities.

“This will allow developers to work out the cost of their new water and wastewater infrastructure and connections without the risk of any unexpected extra costs down the line. We’ve listened to feedback from our stakeholders and we understand how important this financial certainty is right from the outset.”

The new charges proposed by United Utilities are indicative at this stage. The company says it will take on board further feedback before final charges are published no later than 1 February 2019.