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GROUNDWORKS & SEWAGE TREATMENT; KITCHENS & APPLIANCES 41


largest sites. These blocks were swept aside in April by the new arrangements. Not only is it easier to establish what it will cost to connect a new development to the existing water network, but charges are fairer too, with new connections not having to pay for pre-existing network issues.


A WORK IN PROGRESS


All this has set the scene for robust competition, which could unlock substan- tial benefits for the construction industry. But how much has actually changed? As with all major changes, it takes time for a market to adjust to the new realities. NAVs, used to negotiating for a very limited number of projects, are scaling up their teams to meet the new demand, without compromising on the quality of customer service that they can offer. Ofwat, too, has undertaken to streamline the licensing process to avoid the delays that used to concern developers opting to work with independent network providers. More still needs to be done to raise awareness amongst housebuilders and developers of the opportunities now on offer if water and wastewater new connec- tions are to see the level of competition achieved in the gas and electricity markets; a level of competition taken for granted by the new-build industry.


THE REAL BENEFITS OF COMPETITION Market wisdom suggests that competition is a good thing. The experience of the liberalised gas and electricity markets suggests that this will be the case for water connections as the new market develops. New entrants will increase the level of competition at the network level, ensuring that the market continues to deliver competitive prices and high levels of customer service for new water connections for housebuilders.


No longer bound to work with the local water company, developers can incorporate water procurement into a multi-utility approach, working with a single provider to source all the utilities for a site, thereby saving time and money in the procurement process. Installation of the utilities can also be organised through a single schedule, avoiding unnecessary delays and streamlining the process to deliver projects on time.


It may be a work in progress, but all the indications are that the changes introduced in April have indeed paved the way for the “significant change from the past” that Ofwat predicted. Now it is up to housebuilders and developers to make the most of it.


John Marsh is water director at GTC


IT MAY BE A WORK IN PROGRESS, BUT ALL THE INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE CHANGES INTRODUCED IN APRIL HAVE INDEED PAVED THE WAY FOR THE “SIGNIFICANT CHANGE FROM THE PAST” THAT OFWAT PREDICTED.


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