Ofwat has at last issued its Final Determination relating to a residential development at Novartis, Horsham. It states in unequivocal terms that Linden Homes should now receive a refund of over £550,000 from Southern Water for an offsite foul sewer requisition that was not required. However, there are likely to be other Developments where substantial refunds of this magnitude are likely – does this apply to you?
The answer to this question could be “Yes” for two reasons.
The way Southern Water assessed the development was shown to be seriously flawed. More importantly, the assessment parameters used were and continue to be applied by many Sewerage Undertakers. Southern Water’s concerns in this regard are highlighted in paragraph 6.21of the Final Determination:-
“Southern Water raised concerns about how the factors and judgements that led to Linden Homes’ initial request are now being set aside five years later and a different solution is being retrospectively applied. Southern Water raised concerns for this case and future applications under section 99 (6) of the Act. Southern Water also raised concerns that a determination along the lines being suggested would potentially increase the likelihood of other developments raising similar concerns to Linden Homes”.
In the Sewerage Sector Companies have come to expect that they are always right and can therefore do whatever they want regardless of whether it is right or wrong. This simple conclusion can be drawn from paragraph 6.19 of the Determination:-
“Notwithstanding the above, Southern Water considered that even if the Consultant’s report is right, or partially right, it was still entirely reasonable for Southern Water to select the scheme it did at the time”.
This Final Determination took just under six years to reach a conclusion due to the complexities involved but the long-awaited outcome is a “game changer” for Developers.
The simple question to whoever reads this important announcement is whether any of your developments in the past have been the subject of a section 98 foul sewer requisition. If there the answer is yes, then they need to be looked at to see if you can get your money back!