Pavement vaults and Charter Streets in London

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

  • Pavement vaults and Charter Streets in London
  • Charter Streets in the City of London
  • Land registration rules

Pavement vaults and Charter Streets in London

Any structure that lies either over or under any ‘highway’ or ‘street’ is a projection. As well as public highways, the definition of ‘street’ includes most private streets. Sections 176–180 of the Highways Act 1980 (HiA 1980) specify which projections require licences. There is a distinction in the treatment of projections that are above and below the surface. Bridges, buildings, rails, beams, etc over ‘highways’ and cellars under ‘streets’ (including pavement lights and ventilators) are specified. While projections over the highway are mainly of relevance to the provision of head room for the passage of traffic on public highways, the vital issues in respect of structures below are safe support of the soil above coupled with the need to provide a sufficient depth of soil (specifically 1.2 m) for the running of services. New licences are only granted for developments that have already received planning permission.

Licences are required for:

  1. vaults and cellars below a street

  2. pavement lights and smoke ventilators in a street

  3. bridges over the highway

  4. major (habitable) projections over the highway

  5. minor (architectural) projections over the highway

  6. overhead apparatus, over, along or across a highway

  7. building foundations under a street

For all underground projections it is necessary to submit documentation to show that the statutory utilities have been consulted and that they have no plant

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