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- Legislation and standards
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Last edited 17 Jul 2019
Section 278 agreement - works to existing highways
Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980 allows a developer to carry out works to the public highway. This is generally necessary where planning permission has been granted for a development that requires improvements to, or changes to, public highways.
- Priority junctions.
- Junctions with traffic lights.
- Right turn lanes.
- Improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Improvements to existing junctions.
- Traffic calming measures.
The agreement may include:
- Details of the relevant planning permission.
- The agreed design.
- Details of any bond required.
- Details of who will design and manage the works.
- The programme for the works.
- Provision for inspection and certification of the works.
The developer may be responsible for designing, carrying out and paying for the works to the satisfaction of the local highway authority, or the highway authority may carry out the works. The developer may also pay for all or part of works carried out by the highway authority if they are carried out in a way, at a time, or are modified to suit the developer.
- Making the agreement.
- Agreeing the scheme for the works.
- Permissions associated with the works.
- Land acquisition associated with the works.
- Administrative expenses incurred by the highway authority.
- Maintenance of the works (commuted sums).
If the developer is carrying out the works, there may be a requirement for a bond to cover the highway authority against the possibility that the developer fails to properly complete the works, for example if they become insolvent. The bond will be released incrementally until a twelve month maintenance period has elapsed after the works are complete.
The planning application associated with the development will generally establish the principles of the works required. The highway authority cannot then refuse to enter into an agreement for the developer to undertake the approved works as long as the works meet the appropriate standards.
Section 278 Agreements are often entered into alongside Section 38 Agreements, which enable developers to ask the highway authority to ‘adopt’ new roads along with associated infrastructure such as drains, lighting and supporting structures. See Section 38 Agreement for more information.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Manual of Contract Documents for Highway Works.
- Planning condition.
- Planning obligation (Section 106 Agreement).
- Planning permission.
- Reserved matters.
- Section 38 Agreement.
- Section 50 agreement.
- Section 184 agreement.
- Section 215.
 External references.
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