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Farrer & Co | Don’t Question It: a request for information you shouldn’t ignore

If you live or own land near a proposed large-scale infrastructure project, such as Heathrow Airport, HS2 or, in due course, Crossrail 2 it is likely that land interest questionnaires are finding their way on to your desk or doorstep.

The purpose of these questionnaires is to elicit information in order to identify which individuals and organisations have a legal interest in the affected land and could potentially be affected by the proposed development. Developers have a statutory duty to notify all parties who may be affected, and so the questionnaires form part of the pre-application consultation process which is commonly referred to as “Land Referencing”.

At first glance, questionnaires like this can seem time-consuming and an inconvenience. You may also take the view that it is unreasonable to be asked to provide personal information or be concerned that, in completing the questionnaire, you will be indicating that you support the proposals. 

However, while it may be tempting to ignore them the non-statutory questionnaires are the precursor to more in-depth public consultation. Therefore, in completing the questionnaires, you are effectively ensuring that you “reserve a seat at the table” and are kept informed about future statutory consultations and the status of the project’s planning applications. Completing the questionnaires will not be an indicator of whether you agree or disagree with the proposals, as the information requested should be fact and not opinion based. You will be able to provide feedback as part of the wider consultation process, however, which will provide a forum where you can voice your opinions and potentially influence the project.

Information gathered may be used to produce statutory documents which are submitted as part of the application process and made publicly available. Therefore, since the information is used to inform statutory consultations respondents should provide accurate information and take care when completing the forms. 

It is also important to be aware that some requests for information can be statutory and it can potentially be an offence to fail to provide information or to provide inaccurate or misleading information. 

Land referencing questionnaires should therefore not be overlooked. If you would like any assistance with completing such a questionnaire, including any advice regarding the disclosure of confidential information, please do contact our Commercial Property team and we would be delighted to assist.

If you require further information about anything covered in this briefing note, please contact Helen White or Anthony McNamee, or your usual contact at the firm on +44 (0)20 3375 7000.

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, April 2019

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