New Roads and Street Works Act 1991: Code of Practice for the Co-ordination of Works in Roads

Chapter 6 Restrictions Following Substantial Works for Road Purposes

6.1 Background

6.1.1 The general public's perception of poorly co-ordinated road works is typified by a road being dug up within months of being newly resurfaced by an undertaker or roads authority. A primary objective of the co-ordination of works is to minimise the chance of this occurring. The provisions contained within Section 117 of NRSWA are useful in preventing the occurrence of such works.

6.1.2 Under Section 117 of NRSWA, the execution of road works may be restricted for a period of 12 months after the completion of 'substantial works for road purposes'. The Scottish Road Works Commissioner and the RAUC(S) have recommended that, as best practice, this period is extended for certain works as shown in paragraph 6.6.4. This provision has a two-fold purpose:

  • to prevent undertakers breaking up roads within a short period of having been resurfaced or reconstructed; and
  • to avoid repetitive disruption of traffic by works being carried out in the road.

6.2 Substantial Works for Road Purposes - Definition

6.2.1 'Substantial works for road purposes' are roads authority works either affecting a carriageway only, or a footway, footpath, bridleway or cycle track only. They can consist of:

  • resurfacing or specialist non-skid surface dressing;
  • reconstruction;
  • widening; or
  • alteration in the level of the part of the road concerned.

Substantial works for road purposes must meet the following criteria:

(i) if carried out in a carriageway, the resurfaced length is greater than 30 metres continuous length and at least one third of the width of the carriageway.

(ii) if executed in a footpath, footway, or cycle track, the resurfaced length is greater than 30 metres continuous length and at least two-thirds of the width.

6.2.2 Specialist non-skid surface dressings fall within the meaning of 'substantial works for road purposes', but the road works authority may decide not to exercise powers under Section 117 in all cases. Where this treatment is carried out without notice being given under Section 117, the prescribed restriction will not apply. Where the provision of the specialist surface is the only works being undertaken, it is recommended that the road works authority does not exercise powers under Section 117 to place a restriction.

6.3 Restriction Notices

6.3.1 The following provisions apply.

(i) The notice must be raised by entering it in the SRWR.

(ii) The notice must specify the works, their nature and location, the date on which it is proposed to start them (not less than 3 months ahead), and clearly identify the extent of the restriction. The extent of the restriction should be shown on the SRWR by means of a polygon plotted on the map. The restriction applies to the length of road where substantial works for road purposes are proposed, not the entire length of the road as defined in the SRWR.

(iii) A copy of the notice must be given to:

  • transport authorities and bridge authorities if they have structures or land in, or crossing or crossed by the restriction,
  • all section 109 undertakers (which do not have access to the SRWR) who may have apparatus in the part of the road affected; and
  • services within the authority e.g. Planning, which may have proposals that could require the installation of apparatus.

6.3.2 Undertakers, and other owners of underground apparatus, who have any plans for road works in the road in question (immediate, mid, or long term) should adjust their programmes in order to undertake their works in advance of the substantial works for roads purposes.

6.4 Exemptions

6.4.1 Where restrictions are in place, regulations allow the following works to be executed:

(i) emergency or urgent works;
(ii) works not involving breaking up the road;
(iii) repairing, resetting and replacing manhole or chamber covers and frames, pole, lamp, column or sign replacement, pole testing, and works of a similar nature;
(iv) resurfacing up to 20 square metres;
(v) works required to respond to a request for a new service or supply to a customer, which was not received at a time when it was practicable for the works to be done before the period of restriction began. (Exemption claimed because of a new service or supply should be demonstrable if challenged); or
(vi) other works to which the road works authority has given its consent.

6.4.2 Where restrictions are in place, it is recommended that the following works may be executed although they are not covered by regulations:

(i) works to comply with either an improvement notice or prohibition notice issued by the Health and Safety Executive;
(ii) disconnection of unused gas services within 12 months of meter removal as required by Gas Safety regulations; and
(iii) works to comply with a programme of mains replacement approved under the Pipeline Safety Regulations that could not have been identified before the restriction began.

6.5 Severable Works

6.5.1 Works which "cannot be reasonably severed" from emergency works are regarded as part of the emergency works. The same test applies to urgent works. Works which can be "reasonably severed" from such works must therefore be regarded as separate works and classified appropriately. They will then require their own notice and will not fall within the exemptions listed above.

6.5.2 Follow-on or subsequent works such as may be required to effect a permanent solution should be regarded as 'severed' from such works and not within the exemptions. The same logic will apply to the other exempt activities. Where the undertaker is claiming the works are exempt because they can not be reasonably severed from the exempt works, the onus of proof rests with the undertaker.

6.6 Policy Guidance

6.6.1 This power of restricting road works for a period of time can have serious consequences and road works authorities are encouraged to use it only in appropriate circumstances.

6.6.2 Undertakers and others should:

  • do their utmost to give details of their proposals for works in affected roads as early as possible within the 3 month notice period; and
  • complete their works before the expected start date of the resurfacing works.

Nevertheless, if works within one of the exemptions (see paragraph 6.5), or any other works re-scheduled as a result of the proposed restriction, overrun, or have to be carried out after the expected start date, it would be sensible for these road works to be accommodated before completion, or, indeed, the commencement of the substantial works for road purposes concerned.

6.6.3 In considering applications for consent from undertakers, road works authorities should take account of the needs of undertaker customers. But equally, undertakers should recognise the needs of road users and the need to ensure best value for money in road expenditure. The key test is whether the undertaker could reasonably have foreseen the eventuality during the notice period and/or could reasonably be required to postpone the work until the end of the restriction period.

6.6.4 Table of Duration of Restriction following Substantial Works for Road purposes

Table 6.1: Duration of Restriction following Substantial Works for Road Purposes

Type of Works*



Reconstruction and/ or Resurfacing

3 years

1 year

Other Substantial Works for Road Purposes

1 year

1 year

Reconstruction is the removal and replacement of some or all of the various layers that make up a road pavement. It is used to strengthen the road pavement.
Carriageway resurfacing is a new surface material laid by machine, which requires compaction and has the ability to re-profile the surface. It is considered that neither surface dressing nor slurry sealing has the ability to re-profile the surface and so cannot be subject to restriction.
Footway resurfacing can be laid by hand or machine.

6.7 Early Starts

6.7.1 Paragraph E13 of Appendix E sets out how early start requests for substantial works should be dealt with.

Undertakers and relevant authorities shall have 10 days from the date on which an early start request is entered on to the SRWR, in which to raise an objection (using the drop down menu in the comments table). Where an objection is raised, then work should not commence until such time as the objection has been removed and recorded in the SRWR.

6.7.2 Where an objection is received, the road works authority may:

(i) withdraw the requirement for a Section 117 restriction and thus obtain agreement to the early start; or

(ii) co-ordinate a later start date for its works with the undertaker to allow the undertaker to carry out its works. Once agreement is reached on the undertaker's works proceeding and the dates for the substantial works for road purposes being executed, the Section 117 notice can be agreed to be valid and the objection that the undertaker has made in response to the early start request withdrawn.

6.7.3 When no objection is received within the 10 day period the Section 117 notice shall be deemed to be valid.

6.8 Road Works Authority Consent to Works on Roads with Restrictions

6.8.1 As mentioned in paragraph 6.4 above, the road works authority may give consent for works to be executed in the restriction period that are not defined as being exempt. Disputes regarding withholding consent should be settled as described in the Code of Practice for Dispute Resolution and Appeals.

6.8.2 The process for dealing with such consents is still under review and it is hoped that it will be included in a later revision to this Code.