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The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 allows utility companies, the “statutory undertakers”, to carry out work in the highway in respect of their statutory functions in line with national rules. Anyone else must obtain Gateshead Council’s permission before carrying out excavations within our highway network. The type of consent required will depend upon the nature and impact of the work.

The need for consent is largely determined under the national Street Works Coordination Code of Practice, issued by the Department for Transport. The full Code of Practice should be consulted, but below is an extract from paragraph 7.3.4 of the code:

Works promoters must register, or notice, all works that:

  1. Involve the breaking up or resurfacing any street, (see below for pole testing and coring involving excavation).
  2. Involve opening the carriageway or cycleway of traffic-sensitive streets at traffic-sensitive times.
  3. Require any form of temporary traffic control as defined in the Code of Practice for Safety at Street Works and Road Works.
  4. Reduce the lanes available on a carriageway of three or more lanes.
  5. Require a temporary traffic regulation order or notice, or the suspension of pedestrian facilities.
  6. Require a reduction in the width of the existing carriageway of a traffic sensitive street at a traffic-sensitive time

Works promoters do not need to register the following works in advance. However, where reinstatement is carried out it must be registered within ten days of completion.

  • Traffic census surveys – because disclosure prior to a census can encourage a change in normal traffic flows.
  • Pole testing involving excavation – does not require registration in advance, unless one or more of rules 2-6 above, apply.
  • Core holes – not exceeding 150 mm in diameter do not require registration in advance, unless one or more of rules 2-6 above apply.
  • Road markings – that are not part of a larger set of works and do not reduce the width of the carriageway, as they do not involve breaking up of the highway
We have issued a protocol (40Kb) which helps to explain some of our requirements in relation to these activities in greater detail.

Road opening notice

If you just need to carry out excavations in the highway and no apparatus (such as cables, pipes or sewers) is involved, you will need to complete a Road Opening Notice. Section 171 of the Highways Act 1980 covers this sort of work, and the procedure and information required is set out on the application form. There is a fee for this, which will change from time to time; please consult the fees and charges page for the current fees. The forms can be downloaded by clicking the links below:

Section 50 Licence

Anyone other than a statutory undertaker wanting either to place new apparatus in the highway or to work on existing apparatus must apply for a licence. This is governed by the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (section 50 and schedule 3). The licence allows that person to be treated as a statutory undertaker for the purposes of the legislation and bound by the same rules.

We are not obliged to grant a Section 50 licence; and there is a fee for it. That fee will change from time to time and depends on a range of factors, such as how many units of inspection the proposed work would constitute (the definition of a unit of inspection can be found in the national  Code of Practice for Inspections). 

There are also penalties for non-compliance, just as there are for utility companies. 

Please consult the notes within the application pack for further information, which is provided in both Word and PDF formats for your convenience.  For information on current charges, please visit our fees and charges.

Streets with special engineering diffculty (SED)

The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (Section 63 and Schedule 4 for roads and Section 88 for bridges), together with Appendix D to the Street Works Coordination Code of Practice, require advance consultation with the highway or bridge authority where works in streets with Special Engineering Difficulty are proposed.

If you are intending to carry out this kind of work, return the completed SED consultation form to us at least 20 working days before you intend to start work. 

Note that this is in addition to any notice period required under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.  

special engineering diffculty consultation form (160Kb)

special engineering diffculty consultation form (104Kb)

Temporary traffic management

Highway works often require temporary traffic controls, the nature of which will depend on the nature, duration and location of the works. The Government’s Code of Practice on Safety at Street Works gives detailed guidance on what is likely to be appropriate in different circumstances, and should be adhered to. 

In many cases, “Stop/Go” boards will be sufficient to control traffic. Whilst the Council must be told what type of temporary traffic management is proposed as part of the process for applying for the street works licence (or informing us of the works, in the case of a public utility company), the Council’s advance consent for Stop/Go boards is not normally required, although we reserve the right to issue directions. We have put together some useful Stop and Go Board Guidance (364kb) for when this form of traffic control is likely to be appropriate. This should be read in conjunction with the Street Works Safety Code.

Where temporary traffic signals are required to control traffic, all works promoters should be aware of the national regulations and guidelines relating to the use of temporary traffic signals, as well as Gateshead Council’s own protocol (40Kb) relating to street works. As highway authority, the Council has statutory powers of intervention to ensure the efficient operation of the Council’s highway network, including in relation to the deployment and operation of temporary traffic signals.

Following discussions with the emergency services, we have introduced new Temporary Traffic Management Consultation Guidance (133Kb) to assist works promoters in determining the extent of any consultation required in different types of circumstances. To improve consistency and ensure compliance with our own duties, the Council will now inform the emergency services directly when we consider it necessary. Works promoters will still need to address any concerns they may raise as well as consult all other stakeholders.

If you think the work you are proposing to undertake is likely to require some form of traffic control (whether temporary traffic signals or Stop/Go boards) you will need to complete a separate form for this purpose in advance. Please visit our traffic signals page where the appropriate guidance and forms can be found. (Statutory undertakers may be able to notify or apply to us via EToN instead – you will be aware if this is the case.)

Temporary Prohibition of Vehicles

Application must be received 3 months before the anticipated start date of the closure and be submitted with a plan/ sketch of the of the exact location of the area/ section affected/ results of consultation. For emergency situations the form is to be submitted within 24 hours of the closure requirement

Defective reinstatements

Anyone carrying out works in the highway has a legal duty to leave the surface in good order (“reinstatement”) and these rules apply to the utility companies as well. Where this is not done properly, the Council has the power to require things to be put right. 

Such defects are often obvious straight away and are quickly put right. But sometimes they take longer to become apparent (such as when a trench in the road sinks). Where the Council’s own officers spot these defects, they will report them and arrange for them to be rectified. But reports of defective reinstatements often reach us from third parties (such as the police or members of the public).

If you see what seems to be a defective reinstatement (such as a sunken trench in the road) you can report it us at streetworks@gateshead.gov.uk. Please put “Defect” in the subject line and remember to tell us exactly what you have seen and exactly where you saw it (e.g. the house number it is outside and the street name) so that our inspector can find it. We will then investigate and do our best to get it put right as soon as we can.

Tacit consent

Tacit consent does not apply to street works. Unless you are a statutory undertaker (or their agent) which is covered by other legislation, it is in the public interest that the Council should actively consider your application and grant consent before work starts.  This relates to proposed traffic management and associated arrangements as well as to the works themselves. Please contact us if you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, although you should have regard to any timescales indicated on our application forms or guidance notes.

Street Works management contacts

These pages will hopefully answer most routine questions and provide links to the most commonly requested forms and guidance notes. Should you need to discuss a particular issue, a list of the principal street works and associated contacts can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the link below.

Gateshead Council Street Works Contacts

Contact us

Traffic Planning Section 
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Regent Street
Gateshead
NE8 1HH

Tel: 0191 433 3092
Email: streetworks@gateshead.gov.uk