Q&As

Can a local authority use compulsory powers over public highway land or does it need to stop it up before using acquisition powers?

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Published on LexisPSL on 11/12/2015

The following Local Government Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can a local authority use compulsory powers over public highway land or does it need to stop it up before using acquisition powers?

Can a local authority use compulsory powers over public highway land or does it need to stop it up before using acquisition powers?

The stopping up of a highway can be carried out under sections 116, 117, 118 and 119 of the Highways Act 1980 or sections 247, 248, 253 of the Town and County Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990). Stopping up allows the underlying land to be used for purposes which would not be possible if it were to remain as public highway. It removes public rights of access on the land, as well as the highway authority’s responsibilities for the area, and transfers responsibility for the land back to the original owner of the sub soil.

If the court agrees to make a stopping up order, this terminates the public rights over the highway and frees the land from the highway authority’s control. The land reverts to the landowner who can then develop the land. Because of this, it is important that any landownership issues are resolved prior to an application being made.

Land ownership and stopping up are separate procedures carried out under separate powers. Where the sub soil over which a public highway runs is not owned by the highways authority, the land will need to be transferred to the person/body applying for a stopping

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