Highway obstructions—street trading

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

  • Highway obstructions—street trading
  • What is the Highway Authority's duty?
  • The Highway Authority's power to licence obstructions
  • Temporary provisions for pavement licences in England in wake of coronavirus epidemic
  • Temporary provisions for pavement licences in England
  • Hospitality uses in town centres in Wales

Highway obstructions—street trading

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects potentially impacted by the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak (see: Temporary provisions for pavement licences in England in wake of coronavirus epidemic). For further updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Planning and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 (HiA 1980) states that it is an offence ‘if a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway’. HiA 1980, s 137 is frequently used to prosecute street traders—whether that trade is an extension of a business carried on at a property adjoining the highway (eg placing seats on the pavement outside a bar or café) or is a free-standing trade (eg selling hot chestnuts from a brazier, hot dogs or kebabs from a van, or busking). Apart from statute, obstructing the highway is a nuisance.

Section 22 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that ‘a person in charge of a vehicle causes or permits the vehicle or a trailer drawn by it to remain at rest on a road in such a position or in such condition or in such circumstances as to [involve a danger of injury] to other persons using the road is guilty of an offence’.

A specific offence

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