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Commercial wayleaves: the key to business connectivity

In the pursuit of the UK government's ambitious goal to provide gigabit broadband to every corner of the nation by 2030, the significance of wayleave agreements can’t be overstated. And in the commercial sphere, facilitating future-fit connectivity is more important than ever.

With 20% of urban businesses and 34% of rural companies stating their internet connection is ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, these contracts are crucial in enabling the deployment of essential infrastructure. In fact, a staggering 20-30% of all telecoms infrastructure installations hinge on securing wayleave agreements, evidencing the importance of the process to meeting UK-wide connectivity goals. 

According to the Property Industry Alliance, commercial premises make up 13% of the UK’s property market, and the businesses and organisations that they house contribute massively to the nation’s economy. As such, it’s more important than ever to ensure they have access to secure and reliable broadband.

Where do commercial wayleaves apply?

Commercial telecoms wayleaves are required in various scenarios, including if the premises are:

  • Single occupancy units: Whether it’s a standalone office building or retail space, single occupancy properties often depend on wayleave agreements to enable telecoms infrastructure deployment.
  • Multi-business units (MBUs): In buildings or complexes housing multiple enterprises and shared office spaces, these types of contracts become indispensable, ensuring seamless connectivity for all tenants.
  • Business parks: Expansive business parks house a range of business operations in varying building and property types, adding to further obstacles to installation.
  • Other commercial units and properties: Any other type of business site that requires updated fibre infrastructure will often also need a wayleave agreement in place.

What challenges are posed by commercial wayleaves specifically?

For agreements in relation to commercial properties, most of the core terms remain consistent with residential premises. However, navigating a commercial wayleave process does present its own challenges, including:

  • Commercial freeholders tend to be larger entities: In the business property landscape, freeholders are more likely to engage lawyers to negotiate these agreements on their behalf, meaning that often the process is lengthier, and incurs a higher legal cost.
  • Business lease restrictions: These types of leases may impose restrictions that necessitate a “licence to alter” instead of a traditional wayleave agreement, adding to the complexity.
  • Tenant and leaseholder responsibility:  In residential setups, telecommunications infrastructure is the obligation of the property owner. In commercial properties, the tenant or leaseholder typically bears the responsibility  — and the cost — instead. Freeholders are keen to ascertain the value added by these enhancements, adding another layer of intricacy.
  • Prohibitive costs: In MBUs, where multiple businesses share the same premises, the costs of wayleave agreements can be substantial, potentially reaching up to £4,500 per business — often pricing these companies out, and providing a barrier to enhanced connectivity. 

In an ideal world, freeholders should consider upgrading infrastructure before businesses move in, using this as a selling point to attract tenants and ensure seamless connectivity from day one, but if this isn’t the case then it’s more important than ever that a comprehensive wayleave agreement is in place. 

How can Trenches support the commercial wayleave process?

In the pursuit of reliable and seamless connectivity in an increasingly online world, commercial wayleaves are key. These contracts bridge the gap between the altnets, operators, and freeholders, and the organisations that need connectivity — making them an indispensable part of the digital landscape. 

At Trenches Law, our dedicated team of experts has extensive experience in the world of wayleave — innovating the process by utilising our award-winning automation tool, to help reduce costs and lead times. We understand the unique challenges and obstacles involved in connecting commercial premises, and seek to reach a fair and reasonable agreement for all stakeholders.

Additionally, Trenches was recently granted Code powers under the Communications Act 2003, for the provision of a system of infrastructure, empowering us to help revolutionise digital infrastructure in multi-business units (MBUs) across the UK — ensuring that occupants have access to high-speed, reliable internet services.

Want to streamline your commercial roll-outs? Get in touch with us today. 


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