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Mistake Leaves New Build Homes in Derbyshire UK Without Fibre Broadband

Saturday, March 18th, 2017 (7:06 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 2,232)
forge manor derbyshire development uk

Owners of new build homes on the Forge Manor development in Derbyshire, which is being built by Wain Homes, have been left bewildered after an error by the developer meant they would only get a slow copper ADSL broadband service, after initially being promised 300Mbps FTTP.

The Forge Manor development of around 90 new homes is situated in the attractive and large rural village of Chinley, lying in the Blackbrook Valley on the western edge of the Peak District National Park. The area consists of various “affordable” 2, 3 and 4 bedroom houses and some 1 bedroom apartments, all of which have been designed to blend in with the current surroundings.

However some of residents have complained that the local broadband provision is not as advertised. One such individual is Nicolas Raimo, who left a deposit on the new build estate in October 2016, with a completion date set for this May 2017. At the time a sales rep for Wain Homes informed him (verbally) that the property would benefit from a 300Mbps capable broadband service from Openreach (BT).

Openreach similarly confirmed to Nicolas that Forge Manor was a Greenfield site and they were waiting to install the fibre. Since then Nicolas has sold his old house and moved in with his family in preparation for the big move, which as everybody knows is always a major event and one that attracts a lot of additional costs.

Recently everything began to change after Nicolas called BT to get an update and was told that he would no longer be receiving any “fibre broadband” service, with only bog standard copper ADSL lines being provisioned for the area. The situation was later confirmed via the developer.

A Wainhomes Sales Agent, Forge Manor, said:

“Unfortunately we will not have the fibre service to our development as first thought, however there still will be means of broadband through everyone’s normal telephone line.”

Wainhomes has since clarified that they first received Openreach’s proposals in July 2015 and at that time they “accepted the development would be a normal copper supply with normal speed broadband“. Apparently the reason why Forge Manor then began telling potential property owners that ultrafast “fibre” was coming is due to a cock-up with the admin.

The developer explained that they received further paperwork for a site at Forge Lane (Congleton), which did promise a fibre service. However at some point this paperwork was confused with the site in Chinley and hence the wrong information was provided. “As soon as we realised the mistake purchasers have been contacted,” said the developer.

Nicolas Raimo told ISPreview.co.uk:

“My brother in law brought on a Barrat development close by in chapel and that development was started over 2 years ago, all have an FTTP connection. So naturally with my home being one of the first 10 to be built I was expecting at the very least an FTTC connection.

The sales rep told me to check local broadband speeds and I was happy with an FTTC connection. I was then told that the speeds could be up to 300Mbps, meaning I was going to get FTTH, so you can imagine how happy I was. However, later when checking the best speed it said the home could only get 9Mbps ADSL+. I was shocked. So I rang BT and was told it would be FTTP, then I called the next day and was told it wouldn’t get any fibre. Openreach told me the site is all copper.

Why on earth in 2017, on a newly built estate, are there no broadband speeds of at least 20Mbps I don’t know, even the most basic uses need 20Mbps these days! Sadly by the time all this information came to light we had exchanged contracts with the solicitor, arranged a mortgage and spent time and money and also fallen in love with the home, but now I am left with an extremely bitter taste on what’s a very expensive home at £254,950 plus £2500 of extras!”

In fairness, Nicolas has been promised a full refund but that’s of little use now that he is past the point of no return. Based on the original promise Nicolas has already sold his old house and is waiting for the new one to be ready. As most people know, the business of buying and then moving into a new home is one of life’s biggest decisions. Lest we forget all of the other costs involved (solicitors, furniture purchases, estate agents, admin etc.).

Sadly the development was established just outside of Openreach’s new commitment to deliver “free” FTTP to new builds of 30+ homes (here) and the new “broadband-ready” rules (here), although Wainhomes has said that they’re still in contact with Openreach and “have not given up on trying to get a fibre supply to the Forge Manor development.” So there’s at least a little hope.

It’s worth pointing out that the current rules (USO) only require Openreach to install a basic copper phone line and “functional” Internet connectivity, thus the main responsibility for getting faster broadband installed rests with the developer. We should add that Openreach are not the only game in town and Wainhomes could have also sought alternatives from Virgin Media, GTC, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear or others, had they so desired.

We have been trying to get a comment from Openreach for almost two weeks but the recent deal with Ofcom seems to be keeping them busy.

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26 Responses
  1. AndyH

    I am sure Openreach will still supply FTTP, if funded by the developer.

    If all the residents came together, they would have a very strong legal claim (particularly in view of the fact that the developer has admitted to the screwup).

    • Steve Jones

      My view too. If they were sold the properties with the promise of FTTP and haven’t fulfilled the contract, then, under contractual law, the vendor is required to put the buyer into the same financial position they would be if the contract had been fulfilled. That doesn’t just mean refunding any purchase price. It could involve extra compensation for legal fees, temporary accommodation or other costs. With a concerted approach by buyers, it could be cheaper for the developer to pay whatever excess construction costs are involved for OR to put in an FTTP solution. It’s no t as if developers can’t afford it – the large ones are making record profits.

      Note that the terms of contracts aren’t necessarily what’s written on the bit of paper. If there are verbal elements (and they have admitted it) then those apply too.

      Of course, once lawyers get involved then anything might happen. The courts would have to decide whether this is a material breach of contract, and there may be some get-out clauses on deposits and so on. However, it looks to me like there’s a legal case to be made at first sight and, what’s more a moral one as people seem to have made life-changing decisions on this basis.

    • AndyH

      I would think there has to be some agreement between the developer and Openreach here.

      The site is only a couple hundred metres away from the telephone exchange. There are 4 cabinets, 3 of which already have FTTC. We don’t know the work that would need to be done, but it’s a better scenario that being on an exchange with no current FTTx services.

    • dragoneast

      All terms of contracts for an interest in land (buying a house) have to be evidenced in writing (for this reason). So, no.

      It doesn’t preclude a claim in misrepresentation. But seriously, the argument that we choose a house only because of the broadband? I think we really are starting to confuse the real world with the virtual one.

    • fastman

      location, school , transport where the previous 3 — you now have to add broadband — !!!!! its as important as all of the above and in some cases more important

    • Steve Jones

      @dragoneast

      Really? What you say is untrue by the way. This is not a land purchase, it’s a matter of contract law and if there are verbal commitments made then it can still matter. A good lawyer will make sure its in the contract as it makes things simpler in the event of a contractual issue, but it’s not a rule.

      As to whether the matter is material to the contract or not, then that’s up to a court to decide. Clearly material items should be included in a contract to avoid any disputes. However, in this case the developer has clearly publicly stated the mislead the buyers, albeit not deliberately. Clearly if it had been deliberate, then a whole different issue of criminal law might have come into play; in this case it is a civil matter. Here, and admission by the vendor would indicate there’s a potential case for damages.

    • wirelesspacman

      Interesting reasoning Steve.

      I wonder what the redress would be IF a claimant won in such a matter? I would have thought that any damages would be limited to the “inconvenience” of having slower broadband – particularly as it would appear that the claimant would still “enjoy” 9Mbps, which is more than ample for most things.

      Personally, I suspect that the claimant might win the case but get naff all in compensation since IF it really was so important for superfast to be available then the claimant really should have got it written into the contract and not left it as verbal “assurance”.

  2. wirelesspacman

    “even the most basic uses need 20Mbps these days!”

    Lol! 🙂

  3. Thomas

    1st world problems

  4. Paul

    If the developer expects to sell these properties, they will need to pay to get fibre installed. I bet they have not forgotten to provide electricity, water, gas and make provision for foul waste.

  5. CarlT

    It’s an interesting set of priorities getting so upset over what will probably be 10Mb+ ADSL2+ when apparently having fallen in love with the house.

    Strange as it may sound coming from me there are more important things in life, which is why I made a move from 100Mb to 1.3Mb in 2013.

    If the house is so expensive why’d they buy it? Plenty of apartments costing far less available with Hyperoptic is broadband is the be-all.

  6. brian

    Extra, extra, read all about it… Salesman tells potential customer what he wanted to hear to achieve a sale.

    • Webbs

      T’is true, especially with the New Build developers. I had it in writing that a FTTC service would be up and running by the time we completed the sale, and fortunately it was so I never needed to lawyer up on the matter in the end…

  7. comnut

    Yes..get it IN WRITING, conditional on the contract, so if you don’t get it, no sale…

  8. comnut

    :O if anyone could get 300Mbps on BT, where are the adverts???

    or is the 70.99 per month bit they wanna keep quiet??

    or the fact that there is no *normal** website you can download at 100, never mind 300???

    A bit like paying half a mill for super car, and find there is *nowhere* in uk you can do the 200MPH on it!!

    • AndyH

      Could you translate that into English please?

    • The Dude

      You are aware that more than one person/device can (and usually does) use a single internet connection at any given time?

      I’d like to see the supercar that can be driven to several separate places by different people all at once. So no – that analogy doesn’t really work.

    • comnut

      Dude, now it is **your** turn to find an analogy for paying a lot for something that promises a lot, and then find it is NOT possible in the real world…

      And have you ever shared a line with a guy who uses a much more powerful computer than you, specially tweaked to use ALL of the bandwidth???

      I have, I had only a 50M line back then when he was out, I had full speed, and when he switched on his system, it went down to ONE meg…

  9. TheManStan

    Has the development been adopted yet? If not, no one is going to touch it with a barge pole until it is…

  10. Peter Knapp

    The estate is only a couple of hundred metres from the exchange, so ADSL in the order of 15-19Mb/s is available.

    Of course anyone can have a 300Mb/s leased line if they wish and have the depth of pockets..

    • Nicolas Raimo

      Hi Peter sadly not. Its very near the exchange but for some unknown reason BT have sent the wiring down a very odd path.
      BT checker and BT Wholesale checker MAX speed is only showing 9mb which of course could be a lot lower.
      The 300mbs isn’t what I want right now, however future proofing I may need it. At the current time I need a speed of at least 50mb to deal with tasks I need to do When your told a speed way over what you need you’d expect to least get 10% of what you got told not 3%.

  11. danny

    Hi Nicolas

    do you have any further updates on this situation?

    I was also looking at Forge manor but this information has put me off as I work from home.

    Danny

    • Nicolas Raimo

      as of yet no Danny nothing we get keys Monday and BT are installing a phone line start of next month my order shows a MAX possible speed of 9mb, so am expecting it will be lower.

  12. Nicolas Raimo

    UPDATE. Opeanreach have not allowed a fibre to cabinet service to go live speeds of 50mb down and 10mb up.

    • David Pickering

      Hey Nicolas, we are supposed to be moving into Forge Manor at the end of July and was led to believe Fibre was available. Now panicking after trying to order broadband and only being offered 9mb.

      Has there been any developments on Fibre since you’ve moved in?

      Thanks

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