Successful development: it’s all about communication, say Cozens-Hardy solicitors

xxx_Caroline_Lindsell_cozens-hardy_solicitors. Picture: Contributed

xxx_Caroline_Lindsell_cozens-hardy_solicitors. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Caroline Linsdell, a principal in the Cozens-Hardy solicitors business team, explains how all professionals involved in a building development need to talk to each other.

Architects and solicitors can (and should) collaborate on a development. Picture: Getty Images/iStoc

Architects and solicitors can (and should) collaborate on a development. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I was asked recently to give a talk to a group of architecture students to give an insight into how architects and solicitors can (and should) collaborate on a development.

To explain my role as a solicitor was straightforward - when a client is acquiring land for development, whether residential or commercial, the solicitor will investigate the title and raise searches and enquiries. These might reveal third party rights over the land, restrictive or positive covenants, or that the site is crossed by public footpaths or underground services.

All or any of these could seriously prejudice the client's proposed development and therefore need to be brought to the client's attention at an early stage. For this reason, it is critical that the solicitor fully understands the client's plans for the land.

However, the need to be aware of any potential problems does not just sit with the client and the solicitor, and this brings us to the main thrust of my talk to the students. The architect needs to be fully briefed on anything that affects the site and which could influence the design and layout of the development.

Where will the services go? How will the site be accessed? Is any part of the development dependent on having rights over (or indeed under) any adjoining land? Are there any third party rights that will need to be accommodated in the scheme? And, most importantly, where are the site boundaries and what precisely does the client own?

Very early on in my career a client came back to me some time after we had completed the purchase of a site, complaining that the architect could not fit the scheme on to the site. The client had been provided with a site plan at the outset, and advised to share it with his architect, which he had failed to do.

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Fortunately, in that case the architect was able to redraw the scheme, but it highlights the need for all clients to ensure that information obtained by one professional is passed on to another.