Get the information you need to practice law Quickly, Easily and No Subscription Required.
What is KnowHow?
Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Diversion and closure of highways - overviewPublic highways
Where a public highway is no longer needed or when the land is needed for a development to take place, a highway authority has statutory powers to stop up and permanently close it. Highways may also be closed due to natural causes, such as incursion of the sea.
The main statutory powers are in:
the Highways Act 1980, s 116 for the highway authority, sometimes under application from any person requesting such action, to apply to a magistrate to stop up or divert a highway
the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, s 247 for stopping up and/or diversion of a highway to enable development to be carried out
There are a small number of consultees that the highway authority must serve notice on before making the application. Many applications are made for parts of a highway, eg verges.
A statutory diversion creates a new highway and stops up an existing highway. The new highway will be maintainable at public expense.
The effects of closure or diversion are the:
public’s right to pass and re-pass ceases to exist
land reverts to the private landowner of the subsoil
Specific provisions exist to protect interests of statutory undertakers for pipes and cables beneath a closed/diverted highway.
Natural causes for diversion and closure
The common law sees a highway as a right to travel from A to B and it is the passage that is important, not the precise piece of ground over which the right is thought to exist.
If a highway on or near the coast is destroyed by incursions from the sea, the courts will not insist that the authority responsible for its maintenance must restore it to a usable state.
To find out more about PSL Contact us or call 0207 400 2984