Managing your building site safely

Westminster is an economically vibrant city and so levels of building and development are high. The environmental impacts of these activities can at times be inconvenient or unpleasant for those who use the city’s roads and pavements, or live nearby.

The council aims to ensure the streets are safe for everyone and that any impacts are minimised through compliance with conditions attached to temporary structure licences and the promotion of good practice for builders in managing their sites.

Our inspectors make a careful assessment of all sites before a temporary obstruction is licensed and this includes the needs of all users to have safe access around building sites.  Where it is necessary to restrict pedestrian routes or provide an alternative, builders are advised to make adequate provision for people in wheelchairs, with other mobility difficulties or visual impairments.

We encourage builders to take pride in their site and follow the principles of our construction good practice.

Construction good practice

This applies to all construction sites, whether structures encroach onto the public highway or works remain in an enclosed site off the street.

All sites are responsible for damage made to the public highway as a result of construction activity. Contractors carrying out the work resulting in damage are liable for the full cost of repair.

All sites are monitored by our Inspection Team as part of their regular patrols in the city.

Be safe

Carry out all works with the utmost care for the safety of passers-by as well as your workers - this includes driving vehicles on and off the site. Keep all plant and machinery in safe working order, and all structures safe by checking them often.

Be considerate

Carry out all work with consideration for residents, workers, pedestrians, visitors, neighbours, businesses and road users at all times and with every effort to minimise disturbance. Pay special attention to the needs of those who have difficulties with vision, hearing or mobility, and those in wheelchairs or with prams and push chairs.

Be responsible

It is the responsibility of the main contractor to ensure all employees, agents, subcontractors, suppliers, drivers and others working on or near the site comply with this code of practice.

Encroachment onto the public highway

If at any time your works encroach onto or over the public highway, you must apply for a temporary structure licence to cover what would be considered an obstruction under section 169 of the Highways Act, 1980. You must pay a deposit against these works if there are signs of, or the works are likely to lead to, damage to the public asset (that is the highway itself and any street furniture within it).

Be accountable

Display a contact board outside the site, giving names and telephone numbers of staff who can easily be contacted to respond to the concerns of residents, businesses and others. Temporary structures licences must be clearly displayed on site. 

Damage to the public highway

Regular inspections of the public highway take place. Should it become apparent that site activities are causing damage to the public asset, the contractor carrying out the works will be held responsible for the full cost of repair. In most cases an application for a temporary structure licence will be required and a deposit sought.


Keep residents and others informed about unavoidable disturbance such as noise, dust, extended working hours and disruption of traffic. Provide site neighbours with clear information well in advance of starting works, preferably in writing, and perhaps issue regular bulletins about site progress.

Be quiet

Keep noise from works, machinery, workers, radios, vehicles and all other sources to a minimum. Work must not be audible at the site boundary outside permitted working hours unless you have made a prior agreement with the council.

Be clean

Keep all roads and pavements around the site, and all hoardings, scaffolding, warning lights and other equipment clean and in good order. Keep dust and smoke to a minimum and keep the highway clean of mud or other spillage.

Be tidy

Take pride in the condition and appearance of the site and the adjoining highway. Temporary structures, materials and machines should be kept tidy. Remove all litter and rubbish promptly.

Consider people with disabilities

Where it is necessary to provide an alternative or restricted pedestrian route, you must make adequate provision for all persons including those with limited mobility. Temporary pedestrian walkways must include ramps, handrails, good lighting and a suitable surface. The footway must not be reduced to less than 1.5m wide to allow the free passage of both pedestrians and wheelchair users.

Always make every effort to ensure that pedestrian routes are kept free from clutter or debris that could endanger the public, particularly people who are blind or partially sighted or who have mobility difficulties. Wherever appropriate, especially along fences, install ground-level tapping boards for blind and partially sighted people.

Additional information

Last updated: 19 April 2016
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