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Highway Licences

Road Opening & Section 50 Licence

Only individuals with the correct statutory powers or those with an authorised licence can excavate the public highway. As we are both the Street and Highway Authority, we can authorise a private individual to excavate within a public Highway by means of issuing an applicable licence.

How do I obtain a licence to excavate the Public Highway?

Under the Highways Act 1980 Sections 171 & 184, you will need a licence to Open up the Public Highway, if you are working in the:

  • Adopted highways
  • Roads
  • Footways
  • Pavements
  • Verges
  • Alleyways 

This licence can be used for temporary minor excavations such as:

  • Trial holes
  • Repairs to private drainage
  • Construction of vehicle crossings
  • Construction of permanent or temporary site entrances
  • Sewer connections
  • Minor alterations etc

To obtain a licence please complete Road Opening Permit and return to the address on the form.

Section 50 Licence 

A S50 licence authorises private individuals and contractors to lay new apparatus or maintain existing apparatus in the adopted highway.

What is apparatus?

  • A piece of equipment used for a particular purpose, such as to transfer a service of some form.  (Pipe/cable/sewer).
  • Any piece of equipment used to lodge another piece of apparatus e.g. ‘duct’ laid for cable.
  • A piece of equipment placed to gain access to another piece of apparatus e.g. a manhole/inspection chamber.

Please note that any apparatus placed under the highway surface or on the Highway surface require a Section 50 Licence as is required under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.

Fees The cost of both licences is based on the duration of the works: 

  • Major (11 days or longer)                   £1500
  • Standard (between 4-10 days)            £750
  • Minor/Immediate (1-3 days)               £375

This application will take 10 working days to process and you will be required to have a site meeting with the Street Works Inspector before any works commence on site.

To obtain a licence please complete Section 50 Licence and return to the address on the form.

Under Section 171 of the Highway Act 1980 a permit is required to site a crane or hydraulic platform on the public highway.

Applying for a Licence

Currently the charge for each site is £150.00 per 7 days.

This application will take 3 working days to process and you will be required to have a site meeting with the Street Works Inspector before any works commence on site. 

You will need to complete a Application to site a crane or hydraulic platform on the public highway and return to the address on the form. 

Any scaffold or hoarding that encroaches or project onto the highway (road, footpath, grass verge etc) must obtain a permit before the scaffold or hoarding is erected on the highway. 

Scaffold permits will only be considered if the applicant has agreed to the HSE Protocol and are on our select list. 


The charge for a permit is £150.00 for the first 28 days, then £100 for every additional 28 day period, which will be invoiced in due course.

Application Process

We require 3 days advance notice of the commencement of works as a site meeting will be required with our Street Works Inspector.

You will need to complete a Scaffold & Hoarding Application Form and return to the address on the form. 


To put a builder's skip on a public road, you will need to obtain a permit from us.

Application Process

Individuals cannot apply for a skip permit. You will need to contact a registered skip operator to do this on your behalf. 

The skip operator will need to complete a skip application form

There may be conditions attached to the permit including:

  • Making it visible to traffic
  • Dimensions of the skip
  • Location of the skip
  • It may need to be lockable


Skip permits are priced at £20 for 7 days and £20 for every subsequent 7 day period.


If you have a complaint regarding a skip on the highway please email our contact centre or telephone 01744 676789


To place tables, chairs or other temporary furniture on the pavement in England and Wales you require a licence from your local authority. Criteria is as follows:

  • Conditions may be attached
  • A fee will be payable
  • Frontager consent will be required
  • Full planning permission will be required

The application process

Applications for a Pavement Licence can be submitted in two ways.

  1. Print off the Guidelines / application form by clicking on the link to the right, complete the form and return to us at the address indicated.
  2. Click on the application form link (above right under forms), complete the word document and return it to us by following the instructions provided.

Applications for Planning Permission and a Highway Licence should be submitted, preferably at the same time, on the relevant application forms. Applications for Planning Permission will be determined prior to any licence being issued.

The application should include a location plan at 1:1250 scale, a layout plan at 1:100 scale together with specification of all furniture to be provided on the licensed area (not required at initial stage if electronic application is submitted). If umbrellas are proposed, this should also be specified. Plans submitted with the applications must identify the location of the building line and kerbline adjacent to the proposal or the opposite building line in a pedestrianised street, together with dimensions (see diagram in Guidelines Application Form for guidance) of the area for tables and chairs. The plans should also show any entrances to premises within or adjacent to this area plus that area which is considered to be private forecourt, location of trees, lampposts and other street furniture.

Applications should specify the hours during which they would wish to put out the tables and chairs.The application for Planning Permission will be dealt with by the Development Control Section of St.Helens Council. Applicants should note that the Planning Acts do not allow any account to be taken of objections raised on the grounds of increased commercial competition. The application for the Highway Licence will be dealt with by the Engineering group within the Environmental Protection Department.

The Councils Estates Section will be consulted to ensure that the application is acceptable in respect of land in ownership of the Council. Under the provisions of the Highways Act, the Council cannot grant a licence unless it obtains the consent of all interested frontagers who would be materially affected by the proposal. A site notice will be published giving details of the application, and affixed at or near to the site. A copy of this notice will be served on all frontagers and owners of other premises whom it is considered are likely to be materially affected by the proposal. The frontagers will be advised that their consent is requested with or without conditions. They will also be advised that consent cannot be unreasonably withheld, and that if they intend to refuse consent, then a reply stating their reasons is required within the 28 day period specified in the public notice. In the absence of a response from a frontager, it is deemed that consent has been unreasonably withheld and the Council will proceed to determine the application.

If a frontage expressly refuses consent but the Council is minded to grant a Highway Licence and has already granted Planning Permission, the Council cannot proceed to issue the Highway Licence until the question of whether the consent of the frontager has been unreasonably withheld has been determined by arbitration. If the Council is minded to refuse a Highway Licence, then refusal may proceed irrespective of whether or not the consent of the frontagers has been obtained. In considering applications for Highway Licences, officers may, if necessary, make arrangements to meet representatives on site from Merseyside Police, and if need be, the applicant. There is no right of appeal if the Highway Licence is refused, although the decision could be challenged by way of a judicial review. It is advised that any potential applicant should allow 6 months for the completion of the process, whether successful or not.

The licence application fee of £200, which can be paid electronically through the Councils web site or by cheque, will only be required at the end of the process if and when the licence is issued. The planning fee will be payable at the start of the planning process and this should be discussed with the Development Control Section of St Helens Council. All other conditions and information relating to the licence are included within the Guidelines document mentioned above. If you wish to make any changes to the details of the licence please contact us for further advice.

Will tacit consent apply

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us via the St Helens Council Contact Centre.

Public register

There is no public register available for this service.

Redress mechanisms

If you have any complaints regarding the way your application has been processed you should initially contact the Head of Engineering via the St Helens Council Contact Centre.