Broadband project is great - but details need to be right

Have you been approached by Airband about hosting a pole and broadband dishes on your land?

Shaun Jones is a rural professional director at Halls..
Shaun Jones is a rural professional director at Halls..

I encourage Shropshire landowners to waste no time in seeking professional advice before signing a deal to host this equipment on their property.

Airband has a three-year contract with Shropshire Council to deliver a network of more than 200 broadband sites to provide superfast broadband to more than 14,000 homes and businesses across the county.

The company needs to locate wooden poles with a number of dishes on land at selected sites, which will typically be in elevated positions in rural areas.

Since securing its contract in July, Airband has contacted several landowners wishing to agree terms for hosting equipment on land for a term of 10 years. The approach involves brief terms including a rent level and potential for a broadband connection. A very small parcel of land is needed so it is of no detriment to the site provider.

It is a very good opportunity for landowners and communities and I am delighted that Shropshire Council has incentivised the roll out of this project. However, my only concern is that the written document proposed is brief which leaves too much scope for future problems. More detail can protect both parties.

It is vitally important that a rent review provision with the correct frequency and basis is agreed. Another crucial point is that, at the end of the lease, the equipment is removed and the site fully reinstated.

These types of agreement, where a rent will be paid, start off with both parties being content. If the operator, however, sells the business during the 10-year term of the lease, the landlord could end up with a tenant who is less reasonable. It is a case of striking the right balance when negotiating terms and concluding the paperwork.

The rural professional team at Halls has negotiated improved rent terms and has extensive experience of mobile phone masts over the last 18 years, so we are aware of the potential problems.

As Airband is under pressure to erect poles on sites quickly, I encourage landowners to take advice at an early stage. Numerous Airband sites have already been secured in Somerset, Herefordshire and Powys.

Shaun Jones, rural professional director at Halls, Shrewsbury

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