Road adoption guide


This is a step-by-step guide to our highway adoption process.

It highlights any particular procedures, specifications and other details that are used by South Gloucestershire Council. Each section gives an overview of the key issues and the information required by us at each stage.

Section 7 contains the application forms you will need along with further policy information and specification documents.

The Department for Transport has published an Advice Note (April 2017) which may be helpful in understanding the process of highway adoption.

Fees, help and advice

There is an initial fee of £1,000 to cover first-time approvals and the preparation of agreements. A larger initial fee may be requested depending upon the size and complexity of the scheme.

  • The fee to cover the agreement preparation and administration is charged at 15% of the supervision fee (minimum fee of £1,000)
  • These fees exclude safety audits and commuted sums
  • Balance of fees is payable prior to start of works
  • Repeat technical approval re-submissions checks and excessive re-inspections will be charged at actual cost plus 15%

If you have any questions about applying for either the adoption of new highway or the modification of existing highway, contact the Development Implementation team.

Completed applications can also be sent via this address but please be advised that we cannot begin work on your project until we are in receipt of the £1,000 initial fee.

The construction of a new road will usually require planning permission.

We welcome pre-application enquiries and will provide advice before you submit a planning application. Please note we may charge for this service.

Flow diagram illustrating the steps in the process of obtaining planning consent for the construction of a new road.
Planning consent process

The street and highway network features and design are largely agreed through the planning process. Visit the Planning applications section of our website for information and advice on our planning process, making a planning application and related issues such as urban design.

We fully embrace the highway design philosophies set out in the Manual for Streets (1 and 2) together with the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges depending on the nature of the road and its particular environment. We have adopted the Living Streets document as a technical guide to the implementation of informal home zones in new developments.

Planning consent is required before entering into a Section 38 Agreement for the adoption of a new road.

The CIL, S106 Planning Agreement or Decision Notice will set out any requirement for:

  • improvements to existing highway, and/or
  • the creation of new highway to be dedicated to the council

For more information please refer to our Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and S106 Planning Obligations Guide.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM)

The CDM can help you to:

  • improve health and safety in your industry
  • have the right people for the right job at the right time to manage the risks on site
  • focus on effective planning and manage the risk – not the paperwork

Every person involved in construction work has health and safety responsibilities. Checking that working conditions are healthy and safe before work begins, and ensuring that the proposed work is not going to put others at risk, requires planning and preparation. This applies whatever the size of the site.

The developer, designer and contractors must ensure that they are aware of their duties under the CDM Regulations 2015, and health and safety risks must be considered at all stages of the development, starting from the planning stage. The Health and Safety Executive provides guidance.

Details about agreements under Section 38 and Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980.

Flow diagram illustrating the road-building and adoption legal phase
Legal agreement process

Section 38 agreements

A Section 38 agreement (S38) is a legal agreement between one or more landowners and the council to enable the adoption by us as the local highway authority (LHA) of privately constructed highways under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980. If a private company has an arrangement with the land owner(s) to develop the land then this developer will also be party to the S38 agreement.

A S38 agreement contains clauses which commit land owners, developers and the council to certain duties and responsibilities to ensure that an acceptable standard of highway is constructed and adopted.

View an example of one of our S38 agreements. Please note this example may differ from the version we provide, depending on the specifics of your development.

S38 agreements prepared by third parties will not be considered.

Before entering into a Section 38 agreement the land owner or developer must:

  • obtain planning permission for the development from the planning authority, including approval of any reserved matters relating to the works
  • be able to provide HM Land Registry official copy proving freehold title to any and all land to be dedicated as highway

The developer must submit a S38 application with a £1,000 initial fee to the council. This fee is non-returnable and covers:

  • an initial review of technical drawings
  • the calculation of the S38 bond and inspection fees for inclusion in the agreement
  • the initial preparation of the agreement

The application process is set out below.

CIL and Section 106 highway planning agreement requirements

Development mitigation measures such as alterations or improvements to the public highway are sometimes required by highway authorities. We may require a developer to carry out highway improvement works within the existing highway network under Section 278 of the Highway Act 1980 or, where it is of strategic importance to that development, works to be dedicated as new highway.

The CIL or Section 106 will identify the works required as part of a highway schedule in terms of the works, the powers of the proper officer, any land to be dedicated and the liabilities of the developer. Where dedication of additional land as highway is required an agreement under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980 may be appended to the CIL or Section 106 agreement or there may be an obligation to enter into an appropriate highway agreement.

The CIL or Section 106 including the highway schedule is drafted, negotiated and completed as part of the planning process and the required works are identified by our Development Control team. A complete set of drawings and calculations is required for the technical approval element of the application, as listed in the technical approval section. The term ‘adoption’ can be used in reference both to the dedication of additional land as highway and the acceptance of alterations to the existing highway.

For further information see our Community Infrastructure Levy page.

Section 38 agreement application

To commence the process the developer must download and complete a copy of our S38 highway adoption agreement application form.

The following information is required:

  • the development details
  • ownership details (if different to developer)
  • surety details (alternatively the bond may be deposited with the council)
  • solicitor’s reference and email address
  • Land Registry official copy
  • details of any Section 104 agreement under the Water Industry Act 1991
  • £1,000 initial fee

Dedication plan

The developer shall supply a coloured scale highway dedication plan showing:

  • adoptable carriageways, footways, footpaths , cycleways and verges – in pink
  • highway drainage – in green
  • ownership boundary of site (or parcel of large site) – edged in blue
  • visibility splays – in red
  • easements – in yellow
  • location of street lighting columns and street name signs

The purpose of this drawing is to make clear what is being dedicated as highway. Only areas and drainage which are offered to be adopted under S38 or S278 agreement should be shown in colour.

Technical submission

A complete set of drawings and calculations is required for the technical submission element of the S38 application, as listed in the technical approval section.

Technical approval can only be given once the supervision fee has been paid and the S38 agreement is in place.

You can download a copy of the S38 highway adoption agreement application form.

We have provided an example S38 agreement. This example may differ from the version provided in draft form depending on the specifics of the development. S38 agreements prepared by third parties will not be considered.

Traffic regulation orders (TROs)

A TRO is the legal document that creates a local traffic rule, each TRO requires road users to obey certain conditions.

This can include: waiting restrictions, parking restrictions, speed limits, weight limits and prohibited movements such as no right/left turns, no entry and others.

Often developments require new TROs or amendments to existing TROs either:

  • identified through the planning application or
  • identified during the technical approval phase or
  • identified during the implementation or construction of the site

To check whether an existing order is affected please contact us.

Implementing a new TRO is a lengthy process and needs to be identified as early in the design process as possible.

On average a timescale of 9 months should be allowed for a new TRO to be made. This time is required to undertake consultation with council members and formally advertise the TRO to provide the public with an opportunity to comment. Depending on the comments received the proposals might have to be amended and can even be rejected.

Please note that planning approval for a development does not guarantee that the TROs will be made. All TROs need to be sealed prior to the completion of the development.

TROs are funded by the developer who is required to pay an initial £6,000 although the total cost can vary depending on the number and complexity.

Street names are usually required to process a TRO.

The council is responsible for the naming of all roads and streets, and for the naming and numbering of all properties (residential, commercial and industrial) within South Gloucestershire.

An address can only be created and given a postcode by Royal Mail once it has been officially named and numbered by us.

Please also refer to the S38 / S106 agreement.


The works shall be constructed in compliance with the council’s published highway specification and to the satisfaction of the proper officer.

If any issue should arise which is not fully covered by the specification or the legal agreement it shall be determined by the proper officer. In the case of a dispute the matter shall be determined by an independent expert at the developer’s expense.

3 Technical approval

The technical approval process for new roads:

Flow diagram showing the process to  technical approval
The technical approval process


As mentioned previously, we fully embrace the highway design philosophies in the Manual for Streets (1 and 2) together with the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges depending on the nature of the road and its particular environment.

Below we set out the procedures, specifications and other details that we require in addition to those covered by the design manuals.


Unless otherwise stated, all highway works shall be in accordance with our highway specification document.

Our specification contains additions and/or amendments to the Department for Transport’s Specification for Highway Works. Where such details depart from the DfT’s Specification for Highway Works, our additions and/or amendments shall apply.

Required documents for the technical submission

Technical engineering submissions must be in accordance with approved planning consent, conditions and drawings. Works undertaken prior to their being approved by the proper officer are at the developer’s risk.

Required drawings and calculations

The drawings and calculations listed below shall be submitted to, and approved in writing by, the proper officer. One hard copy of all drawings/design documents and a disk with the same in PDF format is required. These drawings are in addition to the adoption plans which we will require for the legal agreement. Full technical approval cannot be given until the legal agreement is in place.

The drawings and calculations we require are listed in the technical approval checklist.

Street lighting

The developer may wish to consider our street lighting design and installation service.

Electricity supply by independent distribution network organisation (IDNO)

Where the developer chooses to use an IDNO for the electricity supply to the development, a service level agreement (SLA) shall be entered into by the IDNO and the council to ensure the supply to the street lighting columns, traffic signs, traffic signals, feeder pillars, etc.

Departures from the specification

In the specification we have set out materials suitable for use on appropriate roads in the area. This specification is not intended to exclude alternative options or to prevent innovative development.

Alternatives and other departures must be agreed in writing by the proper officer and the justification for such a departure must be documented.

The developer must design a highway that is appropriate for both the new development and the existing environment.

Road Safety Audit (RSA)

The objective of a RSA is to identify any aspects of a highway improvement scheme that give rise to road safety concerns and to suggest modifications that would improve the resultant scheme by minimising risk.

Copies of Stage 1 (which is undertaken prior to planning approval) and Stage 2 (following detailed design) RSAs should be provided along with copies of the designer’s response for each stage. A Stage 3 RSA will be required prior to adoption.

A Stage 4 RSA will only be required where there is a specific concern following the completion of the development.

Download our RSA procedures

Issue of technical approval

Once we have issued technical approval the works may then proceed.

4 Construction phase

Once we have approved the developer’s design for the proposed highway works the project moves to the construction phase.

The developer must give us sufficient notice of the intention to commence the works. Our permission must also be sought to carry out work in the public highway (by way of a suitable license or notice under S50 New Roads and Street Works Act 1991).

This is so that construction methods and temporary signage for the safe management of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic may be agreed, and the works can be coordinated with other works in the area, such as our highway re-surfacing or utility works in the ground.

Approved contractors

We do not maintain an approved contractor schedule however we do reserve to right to vet the developer’s proposed contractor for these adoptable highway works and other works on the existing public highway.

The developer may wish to consider our construction team for the implementation of the highway and other works.

StreetCare Commercial is a section of South Gloucestershire Council carrying out commercially traded work on the open market.

To contact the team:


or call

Notice of commencement

The developer shall give at least 10 working days notice in writing to the proper officer advising the date of the intended commencement of any S38 and/or S278 works.

The developer’s attention is also drawn to the need to notify the proper officer regarding inspection of the works in progress and prior to adoption, as detailed in the legal agreement.

Initial works

In order to protect the existing public highway the developer shall construct the first twenty metres of estate road up to and including base course construction before any development construction commences.

This will generally require a Section 184 licence to create a new vehicular access.

Road Opening Licence or Notice (Section 50 New Roads and Street Works Act 1991)

Any work in the public highway requires the approval of the highway authority before commencement of any such works.

Whilst the S278 agreement sets out the terms under which the existing road may be modified, a S50 is required to book the road space (ensuring no clashes with other contractors) and check Street Works accreditations and public liability insurance.

Applicants requiring S50 notice for works under a S278 agreement should request “notice only” S50 and quote the project reference.

Please refer to our road opening licence and modifying the existing highway pages for further information.

Licence to create or amend a vehicular crossing over a footway or verge to gain access to the public highway (Section 184)

Where any land abutting the highway is being, or is to be, developed the developer or persons undertaking the works may apply to construct or improve a crossing over a kerbed footway or verge to gain vehicular access to and from the highway.

Where a new vehicular access is required on a classified road planning permission will be required (our Planning team can be contacted on 01454 860004) and works may require a Section 106 or Section 278 agreement instead. See Section 6 of this guide.

Protection of the existing highway and all road users

Obstruction of the highway

Streetworks, roadworks, skips, scaffolds, hoardings, advertising boards, building materials and vehicles or equipment that block the pavement are all considered to be causing an obstruction to highway users.

It is an offence to obstruct the free passage of the highway (Section 137 Highways Act 1980).

Traffic safety

The developer shall comply with the recommendations of the DfT’s Safety At Street Works And Road Works.

When alternative one-way (shuttle) working of traffic is required the developer shall provide and maintain approved traffic control light signals and such additional traffic signs as may be required by the proper officer.

The signs shall be retro-reflective, adequately illuminated by night in a manner approved by the proper officer, and kept clean and legible at all times.

The developer shall reposition, cover or remove signs as required during the progress of the works.

A minimum carriageway width of 3 metres shall be maintained by the developer at all times.

Full proposals for temporary signs and traffic signals in accordance with Chapter 8 of the DfT’s Traffic Signs Manual 2009 must be submitted for review and approval in advance of any works. This may require a road safety audit.

Protection of the public

The developer shall carry out the works in such a manner as will not interfere with the passage of traffic or pedestrians, and shall erect and maintain adequate hoardings, barriers, and warning lamps to safeguard the public.

Access shall be maintained at all times.

Existing roads to be kept clean

Existing roads and accesses to adjacent houses, buildings etc., used by construction traffic, shall be kept clean and clear of mud and material dropped from vehicles.

Mud, slurry or material brought onto the road as a result of carrying out the works shall be removed immediately by brushing or other approved means.

If required by the proper officer wheel washers shall be installed and used by every vehicle leaving the site. This does not relieve the developer from any responsibilities under Section 59 of the Highways Act 1980.

Mixing of concrete on finished surfaces

Under no circumstances will the mixing of concrete or mortar be permitted on the finished surface of carriageways and footways.

We will hold the developer, as street manager, responsible for any contravention of this clause by third parties.

We may refuse to adopt roads where these requirements have not been observed.

Site inspections

Inspection of works will normally be carried out on Monday to Friday during normal working hours (8am to 6pm). A minimum of 48 hours notice is required for inspections by the proper officer.

In exceptional circumstances works can be carried out and inspected out of hours when specifically agreed by the proper officer. A minimum of ten working days notice will be required to enable any such request to be considered.

5 Completion and adoption

Flow diagram of the completion and adoption stage of road adoption
Completion and adoption process


The adoption process under Section 38 is normally split into three stages referred to as Parts 1, 2 and Final. Certificates are issued on completion of each stage.

The adoption process for highway agreements under S278, which may be appended to a Section 106 agreement, has two stages. The process is the same as for S38 but without a stage 1.

Throughout the whole process the developer has the role and responsibilities of street manager to maintain all the works until the issue of the final certificate.

Section 38, Part 1 certificate: substantial completion

The S38 Part 1 certificate will be issued when the works (not necessarily to include the surface course) and maintenance defects items listed on the Schedule Part 1 of the Section 38 Agreement are completed to the satisfaction of the proper officer.

Newly constructed buildings must not be occupied prior to the issue of the Part 1 certificate if they are accessed from the works which are subject to that S38 Agreement.

On issue of the Part 1 certificate the works subject to that agreement will become dedicated highway but will remain maintainable at the developer’s expense.

Section 38, Part 2 certificate / Section 278 or 106: Part 1 completion certificate

For S38 works the completion certificate will be issued when the items listed on the Schedule Part 2 of the S38 agreement are completed to the satisfaction of the proper officer.

For S278 or S106 works, the completion certificate will be issued when the items listed on the Highways Schedule of the S278 or S106 agreement are completed to the satisfaction of the proper officer.

A maintenance period of not less than twelve months commences with the issue of the completion certificate.

During the maintenance period, the developer as street manager remains fully responsible for all maintenance of the works including any damage, however caused.

The developer may want to take out appropriate insurance against such risks.

Section 38 / Section 278 or 106: final certificate

The developer shall contact the council in writing with a view to undertaking the final inspection prior to the end of the maintenance period.

In addition to completing all remedial works identified in the final inspection, the following is required prior to the completion of the adoption process:

  • issue of the health and safety file, including a detailed topographic ‘as built’ survey drawing of the highway as adopted
  • detailed asset records of all highway features, using standard templates
  • street lighting and traffic signal testing and inspection certificates
  • CCTV as-built survey of highway drainage
  • confirmation that all drainage covered by the Section 104 agreement has been fully adopted by the public water authority

On full and satisfactory completion of these requirements, the council will:

  • issue the final certificate
  • release the bond
  • take over or resume the maintenance of and responsibility for the new highway

6 Create or amend a vehicular access Section 184 licence

Creating or amending a vehicular access on the public highway requires Highway Authority permission. It is an offence under the Highways Act 1980 to drive motorised vehicles across the footway or verge where no dropped kerb is present. To apply for permission to drop a kerb at a single domestic property please refer to drop kerbs.

For commercial premises, development site accesses (both temporary and permanent), car parks, multiple residential properties and all other requests to drop a kerb it is necessary to apply for a licence under Section 184 Highways Act 1980.

Larger, more complex works may instead require an agreement under Section 278. You will be informed on application if this is the case.

In all cases applicants should contact the Planning department to ascertain whether planning permission is required. You will need to be able to provide evidence of this decision on application.

For every Section 184 licence application it is essential to provide the following:

  • fee payment
  • scale plan of works showing engineering detail in accordance with South Gloucestershire’s Highway Specification
  • traffic management plan applying Chapter 8 Traffic Signs Manual to the works. – please remember that this relates to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic
  • street works photocard IDs of accredited operative(s) and supervisor
  • proof of public liability insurance of no less than £5 million.
  • start date and anticipated duration of the works
  • anticipated date of reinstatement (for temporary accesses)
  • confirmation that all relevant statutory undertakers have been consulted and no buried equipment will be affected. It is the applicant’s responsibility to arrange for the diversion or relocation of any services affected by the works
  • Planning reference, if relevant

Failure to provide the required information may delay your works.

Notice of works in the highway must be put in place prior to the start date. This books the necessary road space and prevents two contractors attempting to work at the same location at the same time. The duration of the notice period depends on the duration and complexity of the works. Please be aware that time is required to process applications, to check plans and confirm availability of road space. Early application is recommended.

Further information is included in the Section 184 licence application pack. Should the works require temporary signals / traffic lights please fill in the Traffic Signals Form (Microsoft Word document).

Section 184 is a provision to alter the existing public highway under licence, it does not allow for the alteration of the highway boundary.

7 Additional policy information, specifications and application forms

Select the document you need to download from the list below:

Section 38 Application Form

Section 38 2016 draft – example for website

Protection of street furniture

Material Testing Requirements

Highway Adoption – Definitions and Glossary 2016


Highway adoption – technical approval check list 2016

March 2017 SGC Highway Specification (external)

Section 278 Application Form

Road Safety Audit Procedure May 2020

Section 184 Licence Application 2022-23

Traffic Signals Form

8 Appendices

Appendix A – Bus Shelter Specification

Appendix B – Electrical Specification

Appendix C – Structures

Appendix D – Asset Adoption Survey Specification

Appendix E – Developers Process Diagram for Signals

Beta This is our beta website