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Dorset Council permit scheme for road works and street works

Permit scheme to start

The permit scheme came in to operation on 16 January 2020. A legal Order has been passed which make it an obligation for Dorset Council, Statutory Undertakers and their contractors to comply with the Permit scheme.

Download the Dorset Council Permit Scheme for Street and Road Works

Introduction and history

Dorset Council has worked with Saanchi Solutions Limited to develop and implement a Permit scheme for road works and street works to improve reliability of information about activities taking place on the highway network; and reduce inconvenience to road users and the negative impact on the economy from disruption caused by roadworks.

Under the scheme, promoters will need to ask for permission to work from Dorset Council via an electronic application process before starting activities. This does not apply to emergency works which can start immediately, but where an application must follow.

Permit schemes were bought into existence through the Traffic Management Act in 2004. The first scheme launched in Kent in 2009, followed by London in 2010. Statutory guidance introduced in 2015 has given greater consistency across all schemes and councils across the country have begun to introduce them.

Dorset Council received a letter from the Department for Transport in 2018 (which was addressed to all local authorities who weren't running a permit scheme at the time,) giving direction to introduce one by April 2019, which was subsequently extended to April 2020.

Complying with the scheme

Applications must be submitted with a certain amount of notice, dependant on the type of works being undertaken and the duration. Granted applications may incur a fee. Work should not start until a permit is approved.

Both the works promoters and Dorset Council can impose appropriate and mindful conditions on jobs to include, but not limited to, when work can take place, how long for, and how much roadspace can be taken up.

Working without a valid permit becomes a criminal offence and can incur fines and infringements. Carrying out work not in accordance with the conditions applied to the permit can also incur penalties.

Promoters will need to provide clear start and end dates for their work on certain roads and any alteration to these can incur a charge as well.

Compliance with the scheme will be monitored routinely. Annual reports are sent to the Department for Transport. The scheme will be cost neutral – with the cost of permits funding the administration of the scheme.

The permit scheme is not to be confused with lane rental schemes, which allows a local highway authority to charge works promoters for the time that street and road works occupy the highway - these currently only operate in Kent and London.

Activities requiring a permit

Only the following activities require a permit:

  • utility works (gas, electric, water, sewerage and telephony)
    • work on plant and apparatus in the road by statutory undertakers (utility companies and their contractors) including all remedial works
  • relevant activities by the rail authority (Network Rail), Royal Mail, other agencies and their contractors
  • council highway works (Dorset Highways and its contractors)
    • maintenance and improvement works to the road itself carried out by, or on behalf of, the highway authority; and all highway works
  • major highway works (including Developer activities under Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980)

and only when one or more of the follow criteria apply:

  • activities that involve the breaking up or resurfacing of any street
  • activities that involve the opening of the carriageway or cycleway of traffic sensitive streets at traffic-sensitive times
  • activities that require the use of any form of temporary traffic control as defined in the Code of Practice for Safety at Street Works and Road Works
  • activities that reduce the number of lanes available on a carriageway of three or more lanes
  • activities that require a temporary traffic regulation order or notice, or the suspension of pedestrian crossing facilities
  • activities that require a reduction in width of the existing carriageway of a traffic sensitive street at a traffic-sensitive time


Activities which don't require a permit, include:

  • traffic census surveys
  • pole testing
  • fire service vehicles testing fire hydrants outside of traffic sensitive times
  • core holes not exceeding 150mm in diameter (unless rules above apply)
  • road markings (unless rules above apply)
  • replacing manhole or chamber covers
  • replacing poles, lamps, columns or signs in the same location
  • bar holes
  • applicants following the section 50 procedure


Some of the benefits identified, include:

  • reduction in disruption on the road network
  • improvement in overall network management
  • reduction of delays and inconvenience to the travelling public
  • reduction in costs to businesses caused by delays
  • incentives for work promoters to collaborate

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