Section 278 (S278) agreements, which allow developers to make alterations to public roads, can be time consuming to secure, and it is advisable to begin discussions with the Local Highways Authority as early in the project as possible.
Local authorities can be consulted on thousands of development proposals every year, many of which impact on the road network. Not only that, but the approach of local authorities to S278 agreements varies, so it is little surprise that the process can be protracted.
What happens at planning stage?
The principles of a development and how it impacts the existing road network are set out at planning stage. That includes the internal road layout of the site and the type of junction required to connect it to an existing road. For planning permission to be granted, the proposals need to be to the satisfaction of the local authority.
Once planning permission is granted, the Local Highways Authority cannot request amendments to the approved scheme. And, as long as the required design and safety standards are met, nor can they refuse to enter into an S278 agreement. At this point, drafting of the legal agreement can begin.
What goes into a section 278 agreement?
The local authority’s solicitor draws up the draft S278 agreement for review by the developer’s solicitor. The agreement includes the planning permission and approved scheme design, the proposed schedule of works (including who will design and manage them), a schedule of inspection and approval, and details of costs.
Typically, the developer is also required to pay a bond to protect against the works being left incomplete. The bond is repaid in stages up to completion of the works, usually with a final lump sum paid after a 12-month maintenance period.
If the local authority insists on carrying out the works, they will provide the specification and construction drawings. Where the developer is undertaking the works, the local authority will need to sign off the proposed specification, prior to discharging the relevant condition of the planning permission.
Section 278 agreements in practice
Once the S278 agreement is signed by all parties, work can commence on site. Inspection and certification will follow, in accordance with the agreement. If works deviate from what has been agreed, or the developer fails to make payments, the Local Highways Authority has the ability to close access to the site.
If developers have to offer up land they control for adoption as a public highway, a section 38 agreement needs to be entered into alongside the section 278 agreement.
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The package can include highway works carried out under a section 278 agreement, drainage construction and groundworks. Acting as a single point of contact for multiple aspects of the infrastructure means we can offer improved coordination of works and minimise potential delays. Find out more and enquire about our turnkey packages here.