Highways, street works and statutory undertakers
Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Alistair Frew of Lodders LLP
Highways, street works and statutory undertakers

The following Local Government practice note Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Alistair Frew of Lodders LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Highways, street works and statutory undertakers
  • Street works at common law
  • Street works—liability in negligence
  • Street works and statutory undertakers—statutory law
  • Street works
  • Statutory undertakers
  • Street works licences
  • The street works register
  • Notice of new street works
  • Co-operation
  • More...

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on matters that have temporarily been altered to assist in the management of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For further information, see: Traffic Orders Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/536, LNB News 22/05/2020 77 and Statutory guidance: Traffic Management Act 2004: network management in response to COVID-19.

Street works at common law

At common law it is a nuisance to interfere with the surface of a highway. When the nineteenth-century utility companies began work and used the highways as routes for their underground pipes and cables, many of them found that, without statutory authority and despite them being the most obvious routes, they were prevented by the courts from using the highways for their apparatus. The Sheffield Gas and Cambridge Gas cases illustrate the point.

Street works—liability in negligence

Even when authorised by statute to interfere with or use the highway for utility works and apparatus, the statutory undertakers and those with street works licences owe a duty of care to (other) highway users. There are often quite specific requirements in a street works licence about fencing off the excavation and about the managing of pedestrian and vehicular traffic past the works, but the common law requirements also apply. See, for example:

  1. Holliday v National Telephone

  2. Scott v Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Manchester

  3. Maxwell v

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