It is an offence to obstruct the free passage of the highway.

Obstructions are objects which have been unlawfully placed on or which overhang the highway. Examples of obstructions include:

  • builders' skips
  • scaffolding or hoardings
  • builders' materials
  • temporary works including traffic lights
  • overhanging tree branches or hedges
  • mud or debris on the road
  • mixing concrete or mortar on the highway
  • unauthorised vendors or traders
  • encroachment of highway boundaries
  • discharge of water onto the highway
  • blocking "Rights of Way"
  • plants and bushes
  • illegal signs.

Encroachments are where ownership of areas of the highway has been unlawfully assumed.

If a person without lawful authority or excuse in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway, they are guilty of an offence. In such cases, the Highway Authority has legal powers to enforce their removal.

Highway Licences

Other than statutory undertakers anyone wishing to dig into or to place a structure on or over the public highway needs a licence from the Council prior to starting work.  This is to help the Council protect its most valuable asset and also to ensure the Council can fulfil its legal duty to coordinate activity on the highway to minimise disruption. The different kinds of licence available are:

Footway Crossing Application - including Dropped Kerb

The Footway Crossing Application Pack (contained in the Downloads section on this page) is the form needed to apply for a dropped kerb. It can be used for a private house or commercial premises, whether it is for a new crossing or to extend an existing one. Until 31 October 2019, the cost is £115 for the initial inspection by a Council officer. The next stage in the process (the permit to dig into the public highway) is explained at the inspection.

Section 171 Application

The Section 171 Application Pack (contained in the Downloads section on this page) is the application to dig into the public highway.  This application is usually made by the contractor you choose to install the dropped kerb for you, although you must pay the cost (£335 until 31 October 2019). The Council does not install dropped kerbs but will provide a list of companies that have the relevant qualifications and insurance cover to do so. A discount on the cost of having a dropped kerb is available if you are a registered disabled person (and referred through the Independent Living Service) or it is built as part of a Council footway improvement scheme.

Section 50 Application

The Section 50 Application Pack (contained in the Downloads section on this page) is a licence that permits an organisation with at least £5 million public liability insurance to dig into the public highway, usually in association with work on utility apparatus. Until 31 October 2019, each permit costs £500. If any traffic management is required an application form can be obtained from

Temporary Structure Application

The Temporary Structure Application Pack (contained in the Downloads section on this page) is used to apply for a scaffold, tower, hoarding, fence, crane, cabin, scissor lift or hydraulic platform on the public highway. Applications for up to one month cost £130 (until 31 October 2019) with monthly extensions costing £50. Applicants need to be covered by at least £5 million Public Liability Insurance.

Skip Operators Application

Skip operators need to be registered with the Council and then apply for a permit each time they wish to place a skip on the public highway. Operators need to meet certain criteria, including having a minimum of £5 million Public Liability Insurance. Until 31 October 2019, each permit costs £35 but there can be restrictions on their location or timing. The WCC Skip Operators Application Pack (contained in the Downloads section on this page) gives full details. Any individual or business requiring a skip should apply through a registered operator.