Highways permissions and technical guidance

Any changes affecting the public highway in Kent require our formal agreement. It’s important to engage with us at an early stage of any planned changes, as even if planning consent has been granted by the relevant planning authority, our agreement as the highway authority is not automatic or guaranteed.

Designing and building on the highway

It's important that Kent’s roads, pavements and other highway assets remain serviceable, fulfil their intended function and continue to look attractive well into the future. This means choosing robust, long-lasting materials which are simple and cost effective to maintain.

We have developed guidance on many aspects of highway design, which forms part of the Kent Design Guide. Following this guidance will help you to develop designs that will be acceptable to us as the highway authority.

We have also developed a formal technical approval process for new highway assets and changes to existing highway assets. We welcome engagement with developers and designers at or before the outline design stage.

Find out how we manage highways infrastructure

Outline technical review

To assist developers and designers, we offer a free outline technical review of proposals affecting highway assets. This is separate from the planning process, but will help you to ensure that your proposals will be acceptable to us as the highway authority. To find out more and request an application form, email assetmanagement@kent.gov.uk

Highway pre-application advice

We offer a pre-application advice service for applications that will affect the highway. This can cover proposals of any size, from a small single building to a major housing development, with the cost depending on the type and size of the proposal.

Find out about our pre-application advice

Works to the existing public highway

These may include:

  • works completed as a condition of planning approval, for example to provide a footway or a pedestrian crossing so that people living in a new residential development can walk safely to the local amenities. These works are carried out by legal agreement under Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980.
  • works to create an entrance from an existing road into a new development. These works are also carried out under Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980.
  • dropped kerbs to enable a vehicle to be driven across a path. Find out more about applying for a dropped kerb on our website.
  • works to create or modify a highway structure such as a bridge or culvert, or a geotechnical measure such as a reinforced earth embankment. To discuss such works, contact our Structures Development Control team by email: structurestechnicalapproval@kent.gov.uk.

Works on private land which may affect the public highway

Some works carried out on private land may affect the highway. These include works to:

  • cellars
  • retaining walls which support the highway or land above the highway
  • balconies, signs or other structures which project over the highway.

To discuss these works, contact our Structures Development Control team at structurestechnicalapproval@kent.gov.uk.

New roads, footways and cycle routes

Most new residential or commercial developments will include new roads, pavements and cycle routes, and related assets such as street lights, drainage, and vegetation. These may remain privately owned and maintained, but the developer will often want them to be adopted as part of the public highway and maintained at public expense. The adoption of new developments is carried out by legal agreement under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980.

‘Stopping up’ of part of the public highway

‘Stopping up’ a highway is where part of an existing highway ceases to be highway. This will only be agreed where the land is no longer needed for highway purposes, or where a better alternative is to be provided as part of a new development.

Stopping up can only happen by way of a stopping up order, processed under Section 116 of the Highways Act 1980, which requires final approval at a magistrates’ court. This process can take 12 months and cost the applicant around £5,000.

The first stage in this process is to make a highway boundary enquiry to check whether there are highway rights over the land. You can also check whether a road is a public highway.

Incentive to minimise disruption

The Kent Lane Rental Scheme gives companies that need to close a road or lane to carry out works on the highway a financial incentive to programme their works so that they cause less disruption to highway users.

A daily rate, based on one of four bands, is charged to companies working on specific roads during busy periods.

How we co-ordinate roadworks

We operate a permit scheme under the Traffic Management Act 2004 which enables us to coordinate and manage activities on the public highway. The scheme enables us to resolve differences between those competing for space or time in the street through positive and constructive communication.

If you are proposing works that may affect the highway, you should contact the relevant Streetworks team as early as possible to discuss the works and to ensure the correct permits and permissions to work on the highway are in place.

All works that impact the highway will require a permit.

We must receive requests for road space for works with a duration greater than ten days at least three months in advance.

If works require a road closure, speed reduction or any other Temporary Traffic Order, we must be informed at least three months in advance.

Where traffic lights are required to control traffic at a single location for two months or more, temporary traffic signals (permanent style equipment mounted temporarily and connected to a mains power supply) should be used. Portable traffic signals are only suited to short term use (less than two months duration) and multiple locations throughout a period of works.