Permit scheme for road works and street works

Last updated: 28 April 2022

1. Introduction

1.1. Background

Permit schemes provide a new way to manage activities on the public highway and were introduced by Part 3 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA) to improve authorities’ ability to minimise disruption from street and road works.

1.2. The permit scheme

The Buckinghamshire Council Permit Scheme (BuPS) is a single permit scheme for the purposes of Part 3 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA) and the Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007 (the Permit Regulations).

The Permit Scheme has been prepared in accordance with the regulations and having had regard to the guidance.

In accordance with Regulation 4 (g), it is intended that the Permit Scheme is going to start operation in April 2020.

1.3. The permit authority

The permit scheme is operated by Buckinghamshire Council as the street authority for Buckinghamshire (excluding Milton Keynes), hereinafter referred to as ‘the Permit Authority’.

1.4. Relationship to the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA)

Permit schemes differ from existing powers for managing activities on the street in a number of key respects:

  • They provide an alternative to parts of the notification system under NRSWA, whereby instead of informing a street authority about its intention to carry out works in its area, a statutory undertaker has to book time on the highway by obtaining a permit from the permit authority
  • highway authority own works are included in the scheme and are treated in exactly the same way as a statutory undertaker
  • conditions which impose constraints on the dates and times of activities and the way that work is carried out can be attached to permits
  • the permit authority’s control over variations to the permit conditions, particularly time extensions, gives a greater incentive to complete activities on time

1.5. Changes to NRSWA legislation

The Permit Scheme, when brought into effect, will replace parts of NRWSA, specifically notices relating to Section 54 (advanced notice of certain works), Section 55 (notice of starting date of works) and Section 57 (notice of emergency works). Other elements of NRSWA are also revoked or modified (Appendix A) to necessitate the Permit Scheme and NRSWA operating effectively together.

  • Sections of NRSWA revoked: s.53; s.54; s.55; s.56; s.57; s.66
  • Sections of NRSWA modified: s.58; s.73A; s.74; s.88; s.89; s.93; Schedule 105; Schedule 3A
  • Regulations modified: The Street Works (Registers, Notices, Directions and Designations) (England) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/1951

Changes to Section 58 (restrictions on works following substantial road works) and Section 74 (charges of occupation of the highway where works are unreasonably prolonged) apply only to undertakers’ activities.

The permit scheme makes arrangements so that similar procedures are followed for highway authority promoter activities in relation to timing and duration, in order to facilitate the operation of the permit scheme and ensure parity of treatment for all promoters.

1.6. Activities

Within this document the term ‘promoters’ will be used for both utility and highway authorities and the term ‘activities’ will be used rather than ‘works’ despite the permit scheme applying only to street works and highway works.

1.7. Equivalent definitions

As the permit scheme will operate alongside the NRSWA notice system, the same or equivalent definitions and requirements are used as in the NRSWA notice system, namely:

  • registerable activities/works
  • categories of activities/works, (major, standard, minor and immediate activities/works)
  • street gazetteers, including street referencing by means of a Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) and Associated Street Data (ASD)
  • street reinstatement categories as defined in the NRSWA Reinstatement Specification
  • the distinction between main roads and minor roads where such distinctions are relevant
  • streets designated as protected streets, streets having Special Engineering Difficulties, (SED), or traffic sensitive streets

1.8. Objectives

Buckinghamshire has numerous strategic links to the motorway and trunk road network, including the A5, A404, M1, M25, M40 and M4. Buckinghamshire’s network also provides key strategic diversion routes for these motorways.

Since Buckinghamshire is largely a rural county, one of the key objectives of the permit scheme is to ensure journey reliability on the road network with a focus on “Strategically Significant Streets” defined as traffic sensitive and type 0, 1 and 2 roads, that carry the greatest volume of traffic and provide important public transport routes.

All activities on the highways can reduce the width of the street available to traffic, pedestrians and other users, and can also inconvenience businesses and local residents. The scale of disruption caused is relative to the type of activities being undertaken and the capacity of the street.

Activities where the traffic flow is close to, or exceeds, the physical capacity of the street will have the potential to cause congestion, disruption and delays.

The objective of the TMA is to enable the management of the traffic network to ensure expeditious movement of traffic (including pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users) as required under the TMA Network Management Duty. Part 3 (Permit Schemes) of the TMA aims to empower the Local Highway Authority to minimise disruption from both street and highway works.

1.8.1. The permit scheme objective

Manage and maintain the local highway network to maximise the safe and efficient use of road space and provide reliable journey times This will result in:

  • reduced congestion on the road network
  • improvements to overall network management
  • a reduction in delays to the travelling public
  • a reduction in costs to businesses caused by delays
  • promotion of sustainable communities and businesses
  • promotion of a safer environment
  • reduced carbon emissions

1.8.2. Improving performance

The permit scheme objective will be facilitated by improving performance in line with the Authority’s Network Management Duty in relation to the following key factors:

  • enhanced coordination and cooperation
  • encouragement of partnership working between the permit authority, all Activity Promoters and key stakeholder groups identified within this document
  • provision of more accurate and timely information to be communicated between all stakeholders including members of the public
  • promotion and encouragement of collaborative working
  • improvement in timing and duration of activities, particularly in relation to the busiest streets within the network
  • promotion of dialogue with regard to the way activities are to be carried out
  • enhanced programming of activities and better forward planning by all activity promoters

1.8.3. Aligned objectives

The Permit Scheme objectives align with the strategic objectives contained within the authorities’ local area action plan.

The five priorities for Buckinghamshire in this long term strategic plan are:

  • enhancing accessibility
  • tackling congestion
  • improving the environment
  • improving road safety
  • maintaining and managing the transport asset