Proposed street works permit scheme

In July 2018 the Secretary of State for Transport wrote to all councils that had not yet done so asking them to consider adopting a system of permits for utility street works & highway authority road works.

The main reason behind the request is that it will give the Council, as Highway Authority, greater control over works on our highway network. Along with other councils across the North East, we intend to introduce a permit scheme. The scheme is currently being developed with a view of implementing early 2020.

The total length of the highway network in Darlington is approximately 335 miles (540km) and reflects the mixed character of the borough with urban and rural roads.

An efficient road network is an important element of our vision of making Darlington a place where everyone thrives. It is fundamental to the borough's economy, enabling businesses to provide goods and services.

It allows local people to access services such as:

  • health
  • education
  • employment
  • leisure activities
  • retail

It also keeps communities connected and is vital for visitors to the borough and wider region.

Roadworks can cause significant disruption to the smooth running of the network. This includes by utility companies, developers and maintenance work by the authority. Whilst this may be necessary work, it is important that it is managed as effectively as possible.

There is currently a system in place whereby works promoters give notice to the authority to carry out works on the highway. Promoters are statutory undertakers, such as gas, electricity, water and telecommunications providers.

But, as long as the required notice periods are adhered to, we have very little control over the timing or duration of those works.

Under the proposed permit scheme, promoters will have to book time on the highway network by applying for a permit before carrying out any works. Special arrangements will apply in respect of emergency works.

Similar schemes have already been implemented by many other local authorities. The Government considers these to be a success. A permit scheme will allow us to manage and coordinate essential roadworks. In particular, it will aim to:

  • increase the efficient running of the highway network
  • improve the safety of those using the street and those working on activities that fall within the scheme
  • ensure that better and more accurate information is available for road users about work on the highway
  • More information and scheme documentation will be available on this page as the scheme progresses.

In addition, national statutory guidance for all permit schemes in England can be found on GOV.UK [external link]

Permit Scheme Consultation 

The consultation for the proposed implementation of a Permit Scheme closed on 15th November 2019. Consultation responses were collated and amendments made to the scheme document.

Our responses to all comments raised during the consultation along with the revised Permit Scheme (showing consultation revisions) are available under “Documents” below.

The final permit scheme document has been approved and will be implemented from 2 March 2020.


Darlington's permit scheme has now been in operation since March 2020. View the DBC permit scheme 1st year evaluation report [pdf document]

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