Highway access—local authority searches
Highway access—local authority searches

The following Planning practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Highway access—local authority searches
  • Need for specific additional enquiry where highway access is crucial
  • Consequences of incorrect search result

Need for specific additional enquiry where highway access is crucial

Direct access to the highway can be fundamental to the viability of a development. In Gooden, the local authority's (LA's) replies to enquiries indicated - wrongly - that the strip was part of the highway and maintainable at public expense. Relying on that reply, the developer acquired the site and obtained planning permission for a residential development. Four months later, the LA wrote to the developer, informing him that part of the land had not been adopted. He sued the LA, claiming that he would not have bought the site had he received an accurate reply to his enquiry.

The court dismissed the challenge and held that it had to be shown that the LA knew, or should reasonably have foreseen, the nature of the transaction that the developer had in mind and the purpose for which he might rely upon the information. The question that had been asked was a standard enquiry. It was ordinarily asked in order to assess the likelihood of a purchaser incurring liability to contribute to road repairs. The LA did not know, and could not reasonably have known, that the answer was required for the purpose of deciding whether a new access road could be created for the development. Since that purpose was so far outside

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