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Street works licensing

Street works include laying new or maintaining existing private utilities, drainage or telecommunications apparatus.

Section 171 (Opening notices)

Section 171 of the Highways Act 1980 allows the Highway Authority to licence third parties to make temporary excavations in the highway. This could be to maintain private apparatus such as drains or private utility connections.

Section 50 (Installing private apparatus in the Highway)

An S50 licence authorises private individuals and contractors to lay new apparatus in the highway. This would include private drainage, private gas connections and private communications connections.

Eligibility criteria

'Statutory Undertakers' as defined by the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 have a right to carry out works in the highway. Although they must

  • Coordinate these works with the Street Authority
  • Provide proof of public liability insurance with a minimum cover of £5million

We may also license other contractors to work in the highway.

Regulation summary

You can access a summary and the relevant legislation in the 'External links' below.

Application evaluation process

The standard terms of licences and other consents require applicants to undertake works at their own expense and indemnify Sunderland City Council from any liability that may arise as a consequence of these works or activities.

Individuals and private bodies will be required to provide evidence of an ability to meet their liability by way of public liability insurance at levels set out in Sunderland City Council's standard conditions.

Individuals should note that their exposure to claim is without limitation.

Application fees

Street works licence fees
Section 171 licence£234 per street
Section 50 licence£601 per street

Will "tacit consent" apply?

Tacit consent does not apply to these applications as the council must ensure that, should they be minded to grant an application:

  • The applicant is a fit and proper person
  • Works being carried out will not adversely affect the structure of the highway or pose an unnecessary inconvenience to highway users

Our target completion period for applications for Section 171 licences is 30 working days from the time when all documentation and fees have been submitted.

Our target completion period for applications for Section 50 licences is 60 working days from the time when all documentation and fees have been submitted.

If you have not heard from us within these periods, please email

Apply online

This licence is not available online.

Please contact in the first instance.

Public register

A register of excavations in the highway is kept by the Street Authority and is available for inspection on request. Please email

Failed application redress

Please contact in the first instance.

Consumer complaint

Please contact in the first instance.


Related Links

Roadworks in the Sunderland area - Notification of road closures, diversions and possible traffic disruption as a result of road works that are underway or programmed to take place within the area.

External Links

Safety at street works and road works (opens new window) - Code of practice to ensure safe operations when completing road or street works.

Street works co-ordination code of practice (opens new window) - Under the Act and The Street Works (Registers, Notices, Directions and Designations) (England) Regulations 2007 local authorities have a duty to co-ordinate street works, and undertakers have a duty to give notice of their intended (non-emergency) work...

Specification for the reinstatement of openings in highways (opens new window) - The standards to which streets must be reinstated after works set out in the Specification of the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways (SROH).

Highways Act 1980 (opens new window) - An Act to consolidate the Highways Acts 1959 to 1971 and related enactments, with amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Law Commission.

Traffic Management Act 2004 (opens new window) - An Act to make provision for and in connection with the designation of traffic officers and their duties; to make provision in relation to the management of road networks; to make new provision for regulating the carrying out of works and other...

New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (opens new window) - An Act to amend the law relating to roads so as to enable new roads to be provided by new means; to make new provision with respect to street works and, in Scotland, road works; and for connected purposes.


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