Highway advice for developers

Where development would have an effect on the transport network, the Highway Authority is asked to assess that impact.

This section of the website sets out the aims and guidance that we will apply when we provide highway related advice on development of all types.

You can find out the considerations and requirements for

The consideration of transport sustainability is a material planning consideration.

It must be taken into account when considering whether or not to apply for planning permission and forms part of the suitability assessment undertaken by the Local Highway Authority.

However, sustainability is not just about the environment - it’s also about supporting economic development, improving safety and creating equal opportunities for everyone in society.

We need to ensure that the places we create today meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Emphasis needs to be placed on encouraging a shift away from use of the private car towards walking, cycling and public transport.

People need to be able to reach employment and facilities, families and friends, without over-reliance on car travel which has created local air quality problems, safety issues and contributes to climate change.

These initiatives can include for example workplace or residential travel plans and are intended to;

  • Reduce the need to travel, ensuring there are facilities close to where people live and work
  • Locate new homes close to existing facilities, or in areas where public transport can be used to reach appropriate facilities
  • Increase and improve public transport, walking and cycling, encouraging a shift away from car use
  • Reduce the need for personal car ownership or solo journeys, enabling shared car journeys or car clubs
  • Reduce the dominance of traffic in the street scene so that people feel safer when walking or cycling

Links by public transport must be considered in the context of the 'whole' journey, integrating seamlessly with other sustainable modes.  Itsi important to look at how people get to and from bus/rail stations, making it far easier for them to walk or cycle for different parts of their trip.

Vehicle access crossings (dropped kerbs)

Vehicle access crossings, also known as 'dropped kerbs', allow vehicles to cross a footway or highway verge to access a property or off-street parking area.

It is an offence to drive over a footway or highway verge without a proper vehicle crossing.

We build vehicle access crossings at the request of residents or businesses, if certain criteria are met.  There is a charge for this service and planning permission may be required.

A simple residential vehicle access crossing will usually on average cost around £1,400. However, this figure is only a guide, as the cost for constructing each vehicle access crossing is dependant on individual circumstances. The estimate provided will be based on the cost of the work required to construct the proposed crossing in the approved location.  There is no fee for our initial assessment.

If the work required is in Norwich contact Norwich City Council on 0344 980 3333 or visit the Norwich City Council website.

Standard highway conditions

Norfolk County Council’s, Environment, Transport and Development department has produced Standard Highway Conditions, Informative Notes, Standard Highway Reasons for Refusal and Typical Residential Access Details to assist the Local Planning Authorities and the County Highway Authority in delivering an effective and efficient development management service in Norfolk.

It is not intended to be prescriptive and may well be modified to suit certain planning proposals.

The reasons for refusal provide a framework for formulating highway grounds of refusal of planning consent.

  • Date published - October 2010
  • Date of last review - September 2013
  • Date for next review - March 2014

Commercial vehicles

  • Development likely to serve or attract significant numbers of commercial vehicles should have good access to the routes specifically designated to carry this kind of traffic
  • Where appropriate, provide suitable signs to guide HGV’s along acceptable routes
  • Where appropriate, enter into legal agreements to secure contractual obligations for the routeing of vehicles visiting or operating from the site, and/or mandatory restrictions (Traffic Regulation Orders) to prevent the vehicles from using unacceptable routes
  • Where pedestrian footways are narrow, it may be possible in some cases to alleviate problems - for example by localised widening/the use of bollards/reducing traffic speed limits
  • Where routes do not meet the required standard, developers will be required to contribute, in whole, or in part, towards their improvement or implement such improvements as may be required to mitigate the development’s traffic impact.
  • The method for calculating contributions towards programmed highway improvement schemes is based on the development’s proportional 'traffic impact' using the approach to convert all vehicles into 'Passenger Car Units'. The 'traffic impact' of an HGV in Passenger Car Unit terms is double that of a non-HGV.

Corridors of movement

Outside of urban areas with high connectivity, Principal Routes have a strategic role to play in carrying traffic, usually at speed.

Development in the vicinity of these roads or their junctions can compromise the ability for people to travel more sustainably whilst also prejudicing the ability of strategic routes to carry traffic freely and safely. For these reasons Principal Routes are additionally designated 'Corridors of Movement' where development is normally resisted.

On 'Corridors of Movement' outside of urban areas, drivers do not generally expect to encounter slowing; stopping; turning; manoeuvring or parked vehicles; nor do they expect to encounter pedestrians. This lack of expectancy increases the hazards caused by an access that exists in isolation. Furthermore, the generally more rural location dictates that the opportunity to provide high quality access to public transport and safe walking/cycling routes is severely curtailed.

Development needs to be located in accessible locations recognising the needs and travel patterns of patrons, avoiding the need to create new accesses, or to increase or change the use of an existing access onto a 'Corridor of Movement'. Development contrary to this aim is likely to attract a recommendation of refusal from the Highway Authority unless well founded reasons exist to permit development. This is strictly applied.

Exceptions may be made where the development is of overriding public / national need or the access is required to serve essential development where it has been proved incapable of being sited elsewhere. In such instances the development must be served by a safe means of access.

Where improvements to transport infrastructure are necessary developers may be required to enter into agreements to secure their provision.

Environmental impact

Norfolk’s roads form a reflection of the landscape through which they pass. In order to protect this important aspect of our environment for the future, development needs to take a positive approach to the environment yet at the same time fulfil its responsibilities for safety and maintenance of the highway network.

  • All development related road improvement schemes shall be designed, subject to safety considerations, so as to protect wildlife interest and minimise any adverse impact on wildlife and landscape character
  • All development related road improvement schemes on roads not part of the primary route network shall be designed, subject to safety considerations, so as to maintain and enhance their local character and wildlife interest
  • All development related new highways or highway improvement schemes shall seek to minimise waste of resources through the reduction, reuse and recycling of materials. Highway improvement schemes should be developed with their whole life costs in mind and should be designed so that the materials can be re-used and recycled efficiently at the end of their design life

Parking

All car journeys start and terminate at a parking space.

Accordingly, achieving and maintaining the balance between supply and demand in the total number of spaces are important factors when considering local transport needs.

It is also recognised car parking is a key factor in determining travel choices.

Limiting parking availability at trip origins does not necessarily discourage car ownership and can push vehicle parking onto the adjacent public highway, potentially obstructing the free flow of emergency and passenger service transport vehicles.

Parking provision needs to meet the operational needs of the development and overcome the need for inappropriate on-street parking, whilst at the same time avoiding providing large amounts of parking for non-essential users that would encourage car use;

  • New development needs to be provided with parking that avoids hazardous manoeuvring on the highway to obtain access to and from the site.
  • No part of a vehicle parked within the development may project onto or over the highway.  The vehicle access crossing may not be used as a parking area and no part of it is exempted for the purpose of footway parking.
  • All parking and servicing areas should be available for use at all times and in all weather conditions

Norfolk County Council has adopted a parking standard document, Parking Standards for Norfolk 2007, which covers vehicular modes of transport commonly in use, eg bicycles, powered two wheelers, cars, buses, coaches and servicing vehicles. 

Signs, road markings and advertisements

Signs and road markings on the public highway must meet Department for Transport standards and guidance to make certain the UK has a uniform traffic system which is easily understandable for highway users.

The allowed designs are given in Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.  The Secretary of State has the power to authorise special signs which fall outside the scope of the documents.

Any sign to be sited within the highway should answer a genuine public need and must not cause an impediment to use of the highway.

A proposed sign to be sited within the highway not able to demonstrate these requirements is likely to be in contravention of Section 152 of the Highways Act 1980.

Signs or advertisements

Signs play a vital role in directing, informing, and controlling road users’ behaviour.  To avoid confusion and road safety issues, we need to avoid having either too many signs or signs which pose safety concerns.

Signs or advertisements shall not conflict with highway signs, visibility sight lines or be positioned and/or configured so as to be an unacceptable distraction to road users.

When considering applications relating to signs, the Highway Authority looks at:

  • The position in relation to the highway
  • Possible distraction to drivers
  • Proximity to junctions and roundabouts

Illuminated signs

The amount of light allowed (maximum illuminated area) is calculated based on the kind of area it is in. It is the same whether the sign is internally or externally lit.  There are four kinds of areas (zones):

  • E1 - Intrinsically dark areas (e.g. National Parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, or other dark landscapes)
  • E2 - Low district brightness areas (e.g. rural areas or small village locations)
  • E3 - Medium district brightness areas (e.g. small towns, urban locations)
  • E4 - High district brightness areas (e.g. city and town centres with high levels of night time activity)

When considering the zone in which the sign is to be sited, the Highway Authority looks at the contrast between the sign and its surroundings or background.

When a sign is on the boundary of two zones, the more rigorous standards will be used.

The limits allowed for each zone are as follows:

E1
For an illuminated area up to 10m2 - 100 candelas
For an illuminated area over 10m2 - not applicable

E2
For an illuminated area up to 10m2 - 600 candelas
For an illuminated area over 10m2 - 300 candelas

E3
For an illuminated area up to 10m2 - 800 candelas
For an illuminated area over 10m2 - 600 candelas

E4
For an illuminated area up to 10m2 - 1000 candelas
For an illuminated area over 10m2 - 600 candelas

Streetlighting

Streetlighting is a joint power of the County, District and Parish Councils.

However, it is Norfolk County Council after consultation with the Local Lighting Authority (District or Parish Council) who decides whether or not streetlighting is needed as part of any new development.

There is no automatic assumption that streetlighting needs to be provided.

On new developments, the Local Lighting Authority can either opt to accept the future running costs of the streetlighting themselves, or ask Norfolk County Council to do so. If the Local Lighting Authority chooses to take on the streetlighting, the design of the lighting scheme will be decided between them and the developer and only passed to Norfolk County Council to approve as Highway Authority for inclusion in the Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980 adoption agreement.

The lighting must conform to the footway standard laid down in Section 270 of the Highways Act 1980.

The Local Authorities in Norfolk seek to minimise light pollution emitted from streetlighting.

Structures

In all cases where a structure (i.e. retaining wall, bridge, culvert or other building) either supports the highway or land adjacent to the highway, the developer must satisfy the Highway Authority that it is safe, durable, has minimal impact on the environment and is designed for minimum maintenance.

If the structure is proposed for adoption, the requirement for minimal maintenance is particularly important.

Details of all structures above, below or adjacent to the highway must be submitted as part of the planning application. This includes proposals to construct, assess, refurbish or demolish a structure.

It is necessary to establish the following:

  • Whether the structure is to be adopted by Norfolk County Council
  • If the structure is not to be adopted, who will be responsible for it
  • Whether Technical Approval is required for the structure

If Technical Approval is required the developer must follow the procedures contained in BD 2/05 Technical Approval of Highway Structures. These procedures include the requirement to submit full drawings prepared and signed by a Chartered Engineer (Civil or Structural) together with a Certificate to the Highway Authority before the works begin. This is a statutory requirement.

Before the Technical Approval procedure can begin, payment is required to cover the costs of assessing the proposal. Upon receipt of the preliminary structural details for the proposed scheme, the Highway Authority will provide an estimate of the charges likely to be incurred with a breakdown of costs.

Should the structure be adopted by the Highway Authority for future maintenance at public expense, a minimum commuted sum will be required to cover the reasonable costs of future inspections, maintenance and renewal works.

Turning areas

It is important that vehicles enter the highway in a safe manner. Reversing onto busy roads is not safe.

Turning areas within a residential site

Residential sites must be laid out to provide space to easily turn a vehicle.

The turning area must be in addition to the parking area. It should be designed so emerging vehicles meet the highway at right angles to the traffic to maximise the driver’s visibility and ease of manoeuvring.

Developments with vehicular access onto a public highway with the characteristic of a 'road' (whose main function is accommodating the movement of motor traffic) shall provide a turning space within the curtilage of the site which is large enough to let vehicles leave and re-enter the public highway in a forward gear after no more than two gear changes.

Turning areas within an industrial/commercial site

Problems frequently occur with industrial and commercial sites when large vehicles park on the carriageway while unloading causing difficulties for other highway users because of their width and length.

Therefore, industrial or commercial developments should have a turning space within the curtilage of the site large enough to let vehicles enter and leave the site in a forward gear after no more than two gear changes.

Exceptions to allow vehicles to manoeuvre in the carriageway will only be considered on industrial estates and business parks which access onto short cul-de-sacs where:

  • Traffic speeds are low
  • Vehicle, cycle, and pedestrians flows are minimal
  • The development is small scale

Obstructions on or across a public highway

Development shall be designed such that no obstruction is placed on/across a public highway.

Conflict and interference with the safe movement of pedestrians, cyclists or traffic on the public highway will arise if an obstruction, such as a gate, fence, railing or bollard, is placed inappropriately on the highway.

Care must be taken when considering the means of protecting either landscaping or property.

Bollards for instance can only be used as a means of safeguarding people using the highway (on foot or in vehicles) Section 66(2) of the Highways Act 1980 and cannot be placed on the highway for any other purpose.

Overhangs (structures, beams or cables)

All overhangs, eg structures, beams, or cables, must conform to the height restrictions set by the Local Highway Authority. This is to ensure users of the public highway can pass freely and safely without restriction.

Structures overhanging the highway can be licensed by the Highway Authority under Section 178 of the Highways Act 1980 if they adhere to the height restrictions below:

  • Not less than 5.2m over the carriageway
  • Not less than 6.75m over the carriageway on those roads designed by the Department of Transport as a 'high load grid route'
  • Not less than 3.1m over the footway provided that the apparatus does not come within 1.5m of the edge of the carriageway
  • Not less than the minimum vertical clearances for carriageways (5.2m or 6.75m) above a footway when the apparatus comes within 1.5m of the edge of the carriageway

Exceptions to the criteria set out above will be considered on a case by case basis if greater flexibility is sought. For instance where pedestrian and cycle routes are proposed to pass through buildings, or reduced clearances are sought to get closer to a typical storey height in order to achieve and / or maintain the 'scale' of a particular street.

Rural diversification

Changes in agriculture have resulted in a decline in farm-related jobs and an increase in surplus land and buildings no longer required for agriculture.

These changes have coincided with declining farm incomes and increased environmental pressures, in turn leading to farmers exploring different ways of supplementing their farm incomes through non-agricultural diversification.

  • Diversification should facilitate sustainable development, appropriate for its location
  • The development must be served by approach roads with the capacity to cater for the type and level of traffic likely to be generated, without prejudice to highway safety, particularly focusing on the most vulnerable road users
  • Adequate provision must be made within the site for the parking and manoeuvring of associated vehicles
  • Public Rights of Way are very important for access and recreation and should be protected and where possible enhanced

Where permission is granted for the re-use of an agricultural building for a non-agricultural use, the Local Highway Authority may seek to impose conditions withdrawing the permitted development rights of that particular agricultural unit to erect additional farm buildings in the vicinity of that building, where it is considered that intensification of vehicle use would be likely to have a serious adverse effect upon the highway network.

Developer contributions will be sought to secure the transport measures necessary, including infrastructure and service improvements.

Private longitudinal apparatus (pipes, wires or cables)

Developments should be designed to avoid the need for private longitudinal apparatus such as pipes, wires or cables to be placed on, in or under the highway.

The placing of private apparatus on the highway may sometimes be allowed under Section 50 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. However, as highway land is meant to be for the benefit and use of the public, apparatus of this nature will only be allowed if the following criteria are met:

  • There is no impediment to highway use
  • There is a genuine public need for the apparatus
  • It is not possible to locate the apparatus on neighbouring land (financial constraints are not a valid reason)

Highways within industrial estates or business parks

Industrial and commercial developments such as an industrial estate or business park are exempt from the provisions of the Advance Payments Code Sections 219 - 220 of the Highways Act 1980, and do not have to provide on-site highway infrastructure for adoption by Norfolk County Council, as Local Highway Authority.

While the roads, footways, and cycle routes within this form of development do not need to be adopted, it is still important that their design and construction follows sustainable development principles and caters for all forms of transport which may visit the site.

Early communication between developers, planners and highway engineers is recommended for an integrated approach to the design.

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