Development control - information for developers

Road access and layout for a new residential development shall comply with requirements in the Department’s current design guide, 'Creating Places: Achieving Quality in Residential Developments' and other relevant planning policy and guidance documents.

The Private Streets (NI) Order 1980

Road adoption by the Department is governed by The Private Streets (NI) Order 1980 (The Order), as amended.

Developers are responsible for undertaking a Transport Assessment for a proposed development or re-development. Each proposal will require completion of a Transport Assessment Form as part of the planning application to demonstrate how the development would function in transport terms and to identify any possible adverse impacts.

DfI Roads may, through Planning Service, request a full detailed Transport assessment where the development is considered to be likely to have significant transport implications, irrespective of development size.

Developers and their agents will design a development layout in accordance with current design guidelines and will reach agreement with DfI Roads on the extent of the development roads and footways that will be determined for adoption. An approved layout may include a traditional layout involving carriageway with separate footway(s), or a Shared Surface with service strip(s) arrangement.

Service strips

Service strips (or verges) are 2.0m wide strips of adopted land, which normally extend from the edge of a shared surface into adjacent private gardens. They are provided to accommodate equipment belonging to service providers, such as water, electricity, gas, telephone and street lighting. Developers will normally retain ownership of the land required for the adoptable road and service strips and should ensure that such land is not sold or leased as part of the land on which dwellings have been built.

Although service strips are adopted, they are maintained by residents and will often appear as an integral part of the garden(s). However, no trees, shrubs greater than 500mm mature height, walls, fences gates or other means of enclosure or obstruction are permitted within service strips in order to permit access and to prevent damage to underground services.

Developers are responsible for ensuring that service strips are kept free from obstruction until the private street has been adopted and becomes a public road. In order to maintain the open plan aspect, Planning Service may remove Permitted Development rights by attaching appropriate conditions to the planning permission.

A covenant should be inserted in the conveyance to each purchaser: The following wording is normally used:

“The purchaser hereby covenants with the vendor that he the purchaser and his successors in title will not at any time hereafter erect or construct any building wall or fence or plant any tree or shrub greater than 500mm mature height on the strip shown crossed hatched on the plan annexed hereto nor do or suffer to be done or therein or thereon any act matter or thing whereby the cover of soil over or the support of the pipes, wires and /or cables laid or to be laid in the said strip of land shall be altered or which may render access thereto more difficult or expensive and shall understand that the road authority and statutory undertakers have unencumbered right of access to the said strip of land.”

Where service strips are not provided, such as in mews courts and housing squares, underground services may be located beneath the shared surface carriageway, provided that inspection/maintenance chambers and covers are appropriate for carriageway loading.

Private streets determination

Where applicable, planning permission will include a 'Private Streets Determination' under Article 3 of The Order, which clearly identifies the areas which shall, when properly constructed by the developer, be adopted and thereafter maintained by the Department.

While not required for planning permission, separate approval for construction details, Street Lighting, Technical Approval of Structures, and Geotechnical Approval should be sought from DfI Roads prior to construction. Approval for adoptable sewers should be sought from Northern Ireland Water Limited.

Road bonds and private streets enforcement

Prior to construction, a developer is required to enter into an Agreement with the Department‘s DfI Roads, to provide the roads, footways and sewers to the Department’s standards prescribed in The Private Streets (Construction) Regulations (NI) 1994. This agreement is secured by a bond, that may be used by DfI Roads to complete the road works should the developer default. It is an offence to commence building works without making prior provision for street works expenses.

Enforcement action under Private Streets legislation falls into two main categories:

Working (building) without a bond and agreement

Where it is proposed to erect a building for which plans are required, in accordance with building regulations, to be deposited with a district council and the building will have a frontage onto a private street, it is, subject to exemptions under Article 24(2), an offence to undertake the erection of a building until the Developer has entered into an Agreement and Bond with the Department, undertaking liability for such street works as may be indicated in the agreement.

Failure to satisfactorily complete Street works within a reasonable time

Where a developer fails to properly complete street works within one year from the date on which the building(s) is (are) first occupied, or such longer period as the Department thinks reasonable, the Department shall issue a notice to the responsible person, to require completion of the works. If this requirement is not complied with, the Department may execute the street works and recover expenses from each responsible person. On completion of the works, the road becomes a public road.

A person on whom such notice is served may, within 28 days from the date of the notice, serve notice of an appeal on the Department before making an appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction, on either or both of the following grounds:

  • that he/she is not the responsible person
  • that the street is not a private street

DfI Roads will initiate enforcement action for non-compliance, as required.

Technical approval of structures

Where the construction of a street necessitates a retaining wall, a single span structure or a pipe with greater than 2m clear span, The Private Streets (Construction) Regulations (NI) 1994, Article 12, requires that it shall be designed and checked in accordance with the Department’s Technical Approval scheme.

DfI Roads policy requires that all highway structures, as defined in DMRB Vol 1 BD2 Technical Approval of Highway Structures, shall be subject to Technical Approval. This includes retaining walls with level difference of over 1m, culverts with a span greater than 900mm and temporary structures that support the road during construction.

Guidance and Information on Technical Approvals, including Eurocodes, is available for designers and developers at Technical Approval of Highway Structures.

Geotechnical approval

Geotechnical activities include, but are not limited to, construction of embankments or reinforced earth structures, cuttings, new developments on embankments, structural foundations and roads on poor/fill ground.

Where appropriate, Geotechnical Certification in accordance with DMRB Vol 4 HD 22/02 Managing Geotechnical Risk is required before construction commences.

When Geotechnical Approval is required developers should contact the local DfI Roads Divisional Headquarters. A guidance leaflet provides information for developers and designers on Managing Geotechnical Risk.

Licence agreements

Any improvements to existing public roads that are required by the development shall be carried out under a separate Agreement with the Department.

The developer is also required to enter into a similar Agreement, under Article 161 of The Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 directly with Northern Ireland Water Limited for the development sewers.

Inspections

As the developer constructs his approved streets, DfI Roads Inspectors will regularly inspect the works to ensure that the required standards are being met. The developer is required to pay to the Department, the specified cost of inspections (see below for Inspection Fees), in advance of the works commencing. The developer should also co-ordinate appropriate statutory authorities and others who will place equipment within the adoptable areas.

Site Inspections and testing (notifiable work)

The Private Streets (Construction) Regulations (NI) 1994 requires developers or their agents to give the DfI Roads Private Streets Inspector, not less than three days written notice (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays), of the date and time at which it is intended to commence:

  • the construction of the street
  • the construction of any drain
  • the testing of any drain
  • the covering up of any drain
  • the making of a connection to an existing drain
  • the covering up of the formation
  • the covering up of the sub-base
  • the covering up of each layer of the base; and
  • the laying of each layer of the base course and wearing course
  • the concreting or laying of block paving
  • the construction of any retaining wall or other road-related structure
  • the covering up of any retaining wall or other road-related structure
  • the erection of street lighting columns or cubicles
  • the laying of street lighting cables in trench or in duct
  • the covering up of any street lighting cable or duct
  • the electrical testing of the street lighting installation

Retrospective site inspections and testing

Where a person constructs a street without giving the statutory notice required, the Department may require the person to cut into or lay open a sufficient part of the street to enable the Department to assess compliance with the Construction Regulations.

Inspection fees

Under the Private Streets (Construction)(Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2001, inspection fees are payable by the person by whom or on whose behalf the plans were deposited, for all private streets that have been determined for adoption after 1 May 2001. The fee structure has been agreed with the Construction Employers Federation.

Fees are calculated for each bonded length as follows:

  • £1,000.00 plus 2 per cent of the bond (or deposit) value, up to a maximum fee for any bonded length of £5,000.00

The fee covers inspection of road and sewer construction within the adoptable area, street lighting installation, materials testing and normal administration costs.

Inspection fees are non-refundable and are payable in advance of works commencing on site, when the bond documents are deposited.

Non-utility equipment within the Public Road Boundary

Provision of non-utility services within adoptable areas should be avoided, wherever possible.

Some LPG suppliers are not recognised as a 'Utility Supplier' therefore they are not regulated as such.

Where development sites contain non-utility equipment in the adoptable private street, DfI Roads shall require 'as constructe'” drawings, which accurately indicates the precise location of the equipment, prior to adoption.  A copy of the drawings shall be held in the relevant Section Offices so that applicants for a road-opening permit can be advised of the presence of such equipment in the road.

Supply tanks must not be located within areas that are determined for adoption.

Bond reductions

Bond reductions may be granted on application to DfI Roads, at key stages of construction.

When the roads and sewers are completed satisfactorily, DfI Roads will, on request, issue a Preliminary Certificate of Completion to the developer.

Health and safety file

Following a subsequent one-year maintenance period, during which the developer continues to be responsible for the roads, the developer will correct any final defects that are identified and DfI Roads will then formally complete the adoption. At this point responsibility for maintenance operations transfers to DfI Roads and Water Service. The Health and Safety file for the site should be submitted to DfI Roads at adoption.  

In accordance with The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations a Health and Safety File shall be provided to DfI Roads upon adoption of the private streets / structure. Its content should include information about each of the following where they are relevant to the health & safety of any future construction work:

  • a brief description of the work carried out
  • any residual hazards which remain and how they have been dealt with;
  • key structural principles
  • the nature, location and marking of significant services, including gas supply equipment
  • information and as built drawing of the structure.

Further guidance on its contents can be found in the current edition of the Approved Code of Practise, Managing Health and Safety in Construction, Construction (Design and Management) Regulations NI, which is available from HSE books or TSO.

Where a private street is not properly constructed within a reasonable time, the Department may initiate enforcement action under Article 11 of The Order, requiring the responsible person to complete the works within a specified time. Where such Notice is not complied with, the Department may execute the works and recover costs from the developer and/or surety as appropriate.

Abandonments

Abandonments/Extinguishments (undertaken by Department for Infrastructure and Department for Communities, respectively) of public rights of way may be required to facilitate development. These procedures are separate from the Planning process and involve a separate public consultation process, which will inform the Departments’ decision to approve or reject an application to abandon/extinguish a public right of way.

Where an approved development requires abandonment of the public rights to any part of the public road network, the developer is required to apply for an Abandonment Order under Article 68 of The Roads (NI) Order 1993. The abandonment process may take in excess of 12 months to complete and involves consultation with statutory agencies and other interested parties.

DfI Roads will carefully consider all responses received following the consultation exercise before deciding on whether the abandonment should be granted.

The abandonment process must be successfully completed and any Conditions satisfied, before any relevant development work commences.

DfI Roads encourages the developer to make early contact about their development proposals. We also welcome contact to discuss problems with a view to getting them resolved as quickly as possible. The first point of contact is the Development Control officer for the relevant area.

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