Guide to temporary structures

You will need a temporary structure licence issued by the council for all temporary structures mentioned in this guide.

1. Excavations and storage of materials

A temporary structure licence is required to deposit materials or carry out certain excavations on the public highway. However, we will not normally grant consent to store materials on the public highway as they should be stored on site.

Excavations

You need our consent for any excavations in the public highway involving works to pavement lights, smoke extractor panels, vaults, basements or coal chutes.

Fencing around excavations must comply with the following conditions:

  • the fence must not be more than 1.22m in height, unless otherwise agreed by the council
  • the fence must be lit from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise; red lights must be fixed at all four corners of the fence and at 3m intervals
  • the fenced area must contain all spoil, materials and equipment associated with the works and the highway outside the fenced area must be kept clean and tidy at all times

When work is completed the surface of the public highway must be temporarily reinstated and made safe. You must sweep up all residue and wash down the area. Our approved contractors will carry out all permanent reinstatements at the licensee's expense.

To gain permission for an excavation, please apply for a temporary structure licence.

Where work involves apparatus beneath the highway, please contact the Highways Licensing team.

Storage of materials

In the rare event that the council grants a licence for the storage of materials on the public highway, fencing must comply with the following:

  • the fence must not be more than 1.22m in height unless otherwise directed and must be constructed with a baulk timber base, wooden uprights and close boarded timber
  • the fence must be lit from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise and red lights must be fixed at the top of all four corners of the fence
  • materials must never be stored on the footway or outside the fenced area, and storage containers, office cabins, portable toilets, caravans and vehicles must not be sited within the fenced area
  • building materials must not be placed over gullies or manhole covers, and a reasonable gap between the materials and the kerb edge must be left at all times to allow for the unobstructed drainage of surface water

To gain permission for storage of materials, you will need to apply for a temporary structure licence.

Street works or Section 50 licence

This licence is known as a street works licence or a licence under Section 50 of The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.

This licence permits a person to place or retain apparatus in a street and to inspect, maintain, adjust, repair, alter or renew the apparatus, change its position or remove it.

The word 'apparatus' is the key difference between this licence and the excavation licence. However, sometimes it can be confusing to determine whether an excavation or a Section 50 licence should be applied for. Please contact the Highways Licensing Team for clarification.

The street works licence does not dispense the licensee from obtaining any other consent, licence or permission which may be required.

The fee for a Section 50 License has now increased to £310. Please ensure that all payments reflect this new amount.

View more information and download the application form

2. Gantries, hoists and site huts

 All gantries, hoists and site huts placed on or over the public highway require a temporary structure licence.

It is not council policy to grant a licence for the erection of gantries for storing materials or as working platforms for hoists and associated equipment if there is any practical alternative on site.

General requirements

Gantries must comply with the following requirements:

  • gantry platforms must be double-boarded with polythene sheeting between each layer and set at a minimum headroom clearance of 2.44m from the surface of the footway
  • when required, the outer standards or columns of the gantry must be encased in plywood up to 1.22m high and boxed in at the top
  • once the gantry has been erected, any bracing etc used at ground level or less than 2.44m above the footway must be removed to allow safe passage by pedestrians
  • the outer standards of the gantry erected on the pavement must not be closer than 0.45m to the kerb edge unless other arrangements have been agreed with the council
  • any gantry that projects beyond the kerb edge must have at least 4.88m clearance above the surface of the carriageway
  • where agreement has been obtained to erect the outer standards of the gantry nearer than 0.45m to the kerb edge, baulk timbers 300mm x 300mm must be placed on the carriageway for the full length of the scaffolding and must be painted red and white and fitted with red bulkhead lights at 3m intervals
  • gantries must be lit from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise
  • on the inside of the structure white bulkhead lights must be set at each end of the structure 2.44m high and at 3m intervals. Similarly, on the outside of the structure, red bulkhead lights must be set at each end of the structure 2.44m high and at 3m intervals

Hoists

Mechanical or platform hoists must not descend onto or operate from the public highway. Permission will only be granted for hoists to be operated from a gantry platform at first floor level or above.

Gin wheels and other forms of rope or cable-operated hoists must be used only on the outside of scaffolding, and then only when the scaffolding reaches the kerb edge. In these circumstances building materials must be hoisted from the carriageway and are never permitted over the footway. Any other kind of hoisting must be carried out on private land.

The hoisting of hot tar buckets is not permitted on the road except from a gantry platform and is never permitted from the footway.

Site huts

The council does not allow site huts or office accommodation to be put on gantries on or over any part of the public highway. Offices must be contained within the boundaries of your site.

If there is not enough space on site for accommodation, you should use alternatives such as rented office space.

The one exception is where a building has been totally demolished and open basement construction is to be carried out. In this circumstance temporary accommodation on a gantry may be allowed for welfare and messing facilities only and for a set period of time.

3. Hoardings

All hoardings placed on the public highway in Westminster require a temporary structure licence which you must obtain before erecting the structure.

If a hoarding has been erected on the public highway without approval, it will be considered an illegal obstruction and the council will require its immediate removal. In certain circumstances the council may commence legal proceedings. 

Specific conditions are attached to each individual licence, however your attention is drawn to the following: 

Erecting and dismantling

The hoarding should be designed, constructed, erected and dismantled in a safe manner by or in the presence of a competent person and in conjunction with the current legislation (Section 172 of the Highways Act 1980 and Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991) and Health and Safety Executive guidelines.

General conditions

The hoarding should be constructed of smooth, close boarded timber to a height of no less than 2.44m unless otherwise agreed, and shall be maintained thereafter to the satisfaction of the council. Advertisements are not permitted unless approval has been given by the council’s planning department.

All doors in the hoarding must open inwards and not outwards over the public highway. Where this is not possible, doors should be of the sliding type.

The hoarding must not obstruct access to utility companies’ plant, or enclose any street furniture (street lamps, traffic signs, pay and display machines etc).

The hoarding must be adequately lit between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise. Red bulkhead lights are to be fixed at the top of the hoarding at either end and at intervals of 3m in between.

Wherever possible, the hoarding needs to be kept back from the kerb edge by a minimum of 0.45m.  Where an agreement has been made to erect the hoarding nearer than 0.45m to the kerb edge, baulk timbers 300mm x 300mm must be placed on the carriageway for the full length of the structure. These timbers must be painted red and white and fitted with red bulkhead lights at 3m intervals. 

4. Scaffolding

All scaffolding placed on or over the public highway in Westminster requires a temporary structure licence.

Erecting or dismantling scaffolding

Great care must be taken when erecting or dismantling scaffolding on or near the public highway. The scaffolding contractor and the main contractor share responsibility for ensuring that work is carried out safely. All too often accidents involving members of the public and their property are caused by bad working practices.

Effect on street furniture

Scaffolding may also affect street cleaning or furniture. If a lamp column cannot be repositioned, you may have to provide alternative lighting fixed to the structure, lit and maintained to the satisfaction of the council.

Rubbish chutes

To protect passing pedestrians, rubbish chutes can be used only when fixed to a supporting scaffold gantry which has a minimum clearance of 2.44m over the footway. Chutes must be completely enclosed and covered at the discharge end (which includes lorries and skips) to stop dust or debris escaping and must be moved aside when not in use. They must only be fixed or tied to the supporting gantry or scaffold.

General conditions

Scaffolding must comply with the following conditions:

  • after the scaffolding has been erected, any diagonal cross-bracing used at ground level must be removed at once to allow unobstructed pedestrian access - a width of at least 1.5m and a headroom clearance of at least 2.44m are required for pedestrians to pass, unless other arrangements are agreed by the council
  • while a scaffold is being erected, signs should be prominently displayed saying 'Scaffold is incomplete'
  • vertical scaffold poles erected on the pavement must not be closer than 0.45m to the kerb edge, unless other arrangements have been agreed with council
  • scaffolding that projects beyond the kerb edge must have at least 4.88m clearance above the surface of the carriageway
  • where agreement has been obtained to erect the scaffold nearer than 0.45m to the kerb edge, baulk timbers 300mm x 300mm must be placed on the carriageway for the full length of the scaffolding and these timbers must be painted red and white and fitted with red bulkhead lights at 3m intervals
  • continuous timber or sole plates may not be placed on the highway
  • scaffolding must be lit from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise
  • on the inside of the structure, white bulkhead lights must be set at each end of the structure 2.44m high and at 3m intervals. Similarly, on the outside of the structure, red bulkhead lights must be set at each end of the structure 2.44m high and at 3mintervals
  • where a scaffold is longer than 3m, the council will insist that you provide 'escape routes' for pedestrians at 3m intervals. The Crime Prevention Officer at the local Metropolitan Police Station may request more onerous requirements. You must obtain approval in principle for any such structure before a licence is issued
  • standards must be either painted white or fitted with red and white plastic sleeving up to a height of at least 2.44m
  • any couplings below 2.44m must be fixed so that any projection, or threaded or clamp fixing, is on the opposite side to pedestrians
  • horizontal scaffold poles, such as handrails, must be fitted with plastic end caps or otherwise made safe, as directed by the council
  • scaffolding, scaffold boards, temporary roofs and sheeted scaffolds must be properly secured to resist high winds - sheeted scaffolds are particularly vulnerable to wind damage from the 'sail effect'
  • scaffolding must not obstruct access by emergency services vehicles

If there is any risk of falling material injuring passing pedestrians or hitting vehicles, you must erect a protective scaffold fan. For instance, a scaffold fan is needed when operating cradles or carrying out masonry work.

  • fans or screens must be wide enough to provide complete protection to the public, and to prevent material of any kind from falling onto the public highway
  • fans that project to within 0.45m of the kerb edge must have at least 2.44m clearance above the surface of the public highway. Fans projecting beyond this line must have at least 4.88mclearance above the surface of the carriageway

5. Temporary crossings

If vehicles need to cross the footway to reach the site, you must construct a temporary crossing, for which you will need a temporary structure licence.

On occasion it may be necessary for the council's approved contractor to install the temporary crossover.

Vehicles must not park on the crossing or obstruct the footway in any way.

Once the temporary crossing is no longer required, our approved contractor will carry out the final reinstatement work to return the area back to footway, at the licensee's expense.

Construction of crossing

The temporary crossing must be constructed to the following specification only where the we permit the licensee to undertake the works:

  1. The kerb stones shall be taken up and stored on site by the Licensee or their agent.
  2. The existing footway shall be broken out and excavated to a minimum depth of 225mm and back-filled with un-reinforced concrete.
  3. The concrete must form a ramp up from the carriageway and be laid flush with the adjoining footway, with textured surface that is safe for pedestrians.
  4. During the construction of the temporary crossover, the works shall be properly fenced and adequately lit during the hours of darkness in accordance with Section a 171, subsection 5(a) of the Highways Act 1980.

Excavation near trees

Any excavation beneath a tree canopy must be carried out by hand taking care not to sever or damage any roots. All exposed roots should be covered with hessian sheeting and kept moist until back filling. Roots 25mm in diameter or more must be left intact, bridging the excavation.

Protection of trees

Street trees affected by the proposed structure must be boxed in with plywood panels to a height of 3m.

6. Vault bridges

You will need to complete an application for a temporary structure licence before erecting a Vault Bridge. 

In some instances, to facilitate works to vaults or cellars underneath the public highway, it may be necessary to provide a vault bridge. The structure, in the form of a bridge with a platform and handrail, helps maintain pedestrian access over the working area by spanning the existing public footway for its full width and necessary length, whilst providing a working area underneath for the remedial works. Access over the Vault Bridge is normally provided by ramps placed at both ends with a maximum 1:10 gradient to facilitate disabled pedestrians and wheelchairs. Only in exceptional circumstances will access by steps be permitted.

 You should be aware that in busy built up areas it may not be possible to permit a vault bridge as the ramps will interfere with, or prevent access to, adjoining properties. In this instance an alternative method must be sought. Officers from the Highways Licensing Team will be pleased to offer advice in this instance.

Vault filling

Any structural alteration, demolition or abandonment of a vault or cellar needs consent from the council. Find out more about works affecting vaults.

7. Events

Applications for temporary structures used for events such as grandstands, marquees, stages and gantries are managed by the building control team.

See more about building control applications


Last updated: 27 February 2017
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