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EU broadband legislation could ‘seriously damage’ construction of UK homes

Monday, December 22nd 2014 by Hannah Langston

An EU directive that states every home must be "high speed ready" by 1 January 2017 could hold up the production of new properties, according to the UK’s home builders.

Speaking to Cable.co.uk, Dave Mitchell, technical director of the Home Builders Federation said that “lots of customers are still not getting connections on time” and that the delays could mean the UK misses the 2017 deadline.

“We want to make sure that when a person moves in, superfast broadband is there,” he said.

“The fear I have is whether the UK will meet the dates the EU directive says we have to have it by.

“What worries me is that there is a target. I’m yet to be reassured that Openreach will meet these targets.

“It’s not under my control. What can I as a homebuilder do about it? If service providers don’t meet that deadline, where can I go?”

He added that this could harm the rate of new home production in the UK: “If I’m buying land and say to Openreach, ‘have broadband ready by then,’ and they don’t, does that mean I have to get planning permission?

“It can seriously damage the production of new homes from 2017 onwards.”

Mr Mitchell’s comments come as the government publishes its utility charter, which sets out what housing developers and utility companies should expect from each other when providing services to new homes.

The document includes a voluntary broadband connectivity rating, which will be explored for new and existing buildings outlining the speeds consumers can expect. According to the report, “this will assist with property marketing and help consumers make better informed decisions when buying or renting a new home”.

However, Mr Mitchell said he’s against the advertising of broadband speeds.

“If I’m building a house, I can’t fix it if the speed isn’t there,” he said.

'It will take time'

However, he is hopeful that ongoing discussions between house builders, the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, Openreach and other network providers “could resolve” problems with installation broadband connections in new homes.

Mr Mitchell warned: “It’s not going to happen this side of the election. (Even) if the same party stays in power there will be different ministers, so it will take time to get to grips with everything before the 2017 deadline.”

BT declined to respond to Mr Mitchell’s recent comments but an Openreach spokesperson previously told us: “Openreach has a specific ‘new sites’ team which is dedicated to connecting new developments across the UK to our open access network.

“The team works hard to avoid any situation where a resident might move into their home without lines already installed, but we can sometimes encounter obstacles which affect our ability to do that. These include planning procedures, the local infrastructure, the amount of civil engineering work needed and any wayleaves required to work on third party property or land.

“For these reasons, we encourage developers to work with us from the very outset of their project so that our engineers can plan, design and build the network effectively and on-time”.

As previously reported by Cable.co.uk, new-build residents who’ve booked broadband installations have been plagued by delays from Openreach.

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