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Street works in England

Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019

This paper sets out the rights of utility companies and others to undertake street works and the powers available to street authorities to manage and mitigate those works.

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Street works, distinct from other road works completed by highways authorities, are those completed by utility companies to install, repair and maintain their services. They are carried out by virtue of a statutory right or a licence and do not need the prior consent of the street authority.

The control of how third parties like utility companies carry out street works is the responsibility of the relevant street authority. Street authorities have powers to:

  • prevent roads from being dug-up repeatedly;
  • can impose fines for non-compliance;
  • implement a ‘permit scheme’ for street works;
  • specify which route street works should follow; and
  • decide what day of the week and at what times works can be carried out.

More detail around the statutory rights and duties of the undertakers and street authorities, with respect to various parts of the street works process, is explained in Section 3 of this paper.

Since its introduction in 2010, the number of local highways authorities (LHAs) with a permit scheme has steadily increased, reaching a total of 95 Permit Authorities by September 2016, which represents 63% of the LHAs in England. The remaining LHAs continue to operate a notice regime, using the powers contained within the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 to coordinate and control works on their network.

Lane rental schemes were piloted from 2012 in London and Kent. Following a consultation in 2017, the Government has decided to allow other local authorities to bid for and set up lane rental schemes as a way of reducing the impact of street works on the busiest roads at the busiest times.

This paper does not deal specifically with winter maintenance, which is covered separately in SN2874. Information on other roads-related issues can be found on the Roads Topical Page of the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8500

Authors: Andrew Haylen; Louise Butcher

Topic: Roads

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