Dropped kerbs and drop kerb applications – Section 184

It is common for most new developments and for many existing householders to seek new vehicle access points from the public highway. The most basic form is where the kerbs are dropped and pavement reconstructed at a new gradient to provide a sound entrance.

Dropped kerbs – laws and applications

The starting position however is that neither you, nor a local builder, have the legal right to do such work. You don’t own the public highway, or any of the apparatus within it. If you drive onto the public highway and damage services or the pavement, you are likely to be liable for an enormous bill and it’s illegal.

The Highways Act 1980 – Section 184, makes it an offence to drive a vehicle across a footway, or verge, where there is no proper vehicle crossover. It allows for the Highway Authority (or its Agent) to agree to a new vehicle crossover to be constructed. New drop kerb vehicle crossings were historically called carriage crossings. They include both the physical lowering of the kerb (the dropped kerb) and a permission to allow a vehicle to cross the public footway.

The entire costs in design and construction of the dropped kerb entrance are usually paid by the applicant.

REMEMBER –  it is unlikely that your proposal is of any benefit to the Authority and the default position is normally rejection.

Additional entrances/ dropped kerbs are usually seen as increasing the highway safety risk for the public. This is the case even if they are obviously beneficial for the individual. Indeed off street parking can often add many thousands to the value of a property. In London, a new permission can be worth over £10,000.

You therefore need to make a strong case to the Highway Authority as to why you should be allowed a dropped kerb.

One also needs a clear fully designed proposal for a new drive, or access road. Unless you can provide a design showing how it will be a sustainable permeable solution, it will require a planning application. Traditional block paved or impermeable “tarmac” proposals which do not involve sustainable drainage will normally be rejected. As of last year you also have no default right to connect additional surface water flows to the public sewer.

Drop kerb application / Section 184 rejection

Obtaining the legal right to a dropped kerb can sometimes be a complex process and it is estimated around 60% of all dropped kerb / carriage crossing applications are rejected.

Many of these are rejected because a client has chosen to make the application themselves without the services of a Civil Engineering Consultant, using an Architect or some clients make the application with no more than a simple sketch.

For all engineering works – someone is legally the responsible designer. If someone without any highway experience puts forward an applications this generally means you are suggesting that the Highway Authority take on the role of designer and associated design liability on your behalf. Application costs are often minimal and certainly do not cover such professional liability. The Government does not provide the funding to Highway Authorities to undertake this role. There is an argument for saying that all Highway Act applications should be rejected if they are not undertaken by an engineering consultancy with highway experience.

You should generally also ascertain what services exist in the public highway. Sometimes a drop kerb is not viable without extensive diversion or lowering or existing services at considerable expense.

Elements related to rejection of a dropped kerb application can include:

  • Inadequate sightlines
  • Lack of information
  • Location to junctions, traffic lights or crossings
  • Extent and depth of services within the footpath
  • Speed of the road, bus and cycle lanes.
  • Existing parking or bus stops.

How to maximise success and reduce total project cost

It is recommended to procure the services of a competent Civil Engineering Consultant to undertake your design and liaise with the Highway Authority on your behalf. They will have experience the situation many times before and have worked with the Council highway officers previously. They are likely to increase the potential of a successful drop kerb application. It is a similar situation to getting a planning consultant to advise you on a new development. You could do without, but your chance of success is generally much lower.

The other advantage is that can they can design the dropped kerb work and tender it on your behalf to local ground-workers. Again, they will have worked with various ground-workers before and will generally have far greater experience of who does a good job at a good price then you will.

photo of dropped kerb in relation to a dropped kerb application or law


Outline client costs

1) A charge of £500+VAT which covers the financial, administrative, legal and insurance elements of setting up a new clients proposed project.

2) Professional advice (travel, meetings, design etc) associated with a specific project is charged at £160+VAT per hour.

It may be possible to provide a fixed fee, where the scope is reasonably certain and an accurate understanding of time can be conservatively evaluated. Realistically, a fee is unlikely to be under £1100 and closer to £2000 where a visit is necessary.

We are typically very busy and booked up months in advance. It is rare that any new project proposal will commence in under a month from instruction. A lead in time of 2 months should be assumed.

Please do not contact us if you are not intending to seek professional advice as we cannot provide free professional highway advice.

Due to strict legal liability, professional responsibility and commercial viability – professional advice can only be given with a written agreement in place.

Please click on “contact us” and review the questions and answers.

Please send an email which include all relevant background information for a fixed quote, including proposal plans, highway plans, surveys, photos, planning conditions, or anything else relevant to the proposed dropped kerb, or new access agreement.

We will then review and usually respond within 2 or 3 weeks.