Public Realm – Problems with Utility Companies

Argyll Street
We  have all seen examples of newly laid Public Realm destroyed by the thoughtless actions of utility companies who dig up surfaces, in some cases within days or weeks of their having been laid.

The solution to this requires national legislation as large numbers of statutory utility companies have the right to dig up the road. It also requires input from the Mayor's office who is attempting to introduce more stringent conditions and the co-operation of the utilitiy companies themselves. By way of recent example, the flagship Oxford Circus diagonals scheme has been dug up  and instead of making good with the same quality materials which were a feature of that scheme patches of tarmac have now appeared . Once the integrity of the scheme is broken it is more difficult to maintain it.

Unfortunately even if we can establish from the licence application records which utility and which contractors were responsible for this work, they have up to six months in order to ‘make good’. That means for that that period of time, the temporary reinstatement cannot be improved upon.

Recently Argyll Street has been dug up several times in order to accommodate the requirement to liven up the new lampposts by UK Power (formerly EDF). This is extremely disappointing as they have been asked on many occasions to ensure that this work was done prior to the high quality surfaces, in this case Yorkstone originally being laid.

Oxford Circus
Unbelievably the Mount Street flagship scheme instigated by the Grosvenor Estate and their contractors and laid  out in the highest quality Yorkstone was dug up within a week of completion to facilitate British Telecom ‘emergency works’. Luckily those works have now been made good, to a standard whereby it is difficult to see where they have occurred.

It is important to stay vigilant on these matters so that if unauthorised work (i.e. works which do not show a licence number and a date for its expected completion and the name of the party on whose behalf the work is being done) can be identified and reported to the enforcement department within the Council.

There are a number of other high profile Public Realm Schemes currently being undertaken in West End Ward and within the limited parameters that the law provides, we must try and ensure that they are not destroyed or compromised once the work is done and these much needed improvements look good for years to come..

This entry was posted on Friday, 11 February 2011 and is filed under ,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed.