News & Insights

What is a Section 278 Agreement?

Lauren Walker, an associate in our Real Estate team, explains what a Section 278 Agreement is and why they are used.

Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980 permits a developer to carry out works to a public highway. This is usually necessary where a developer has obtained planning permission which requires improvements or changes to the public highway and the developer and the local authority will enter into a section 278 agreement which will govern the arrangements for any works to be done.

A section 278 Agreement may include provision for the following:

  • Details of the planning permission obtained;
  • Any agreed design of the development and changes to the public highway;
  • Details of any bond required;
  • Details of who will design and manage the works;
  • The programme of works to be implemented;
  • Provision for inspection and certification of the works once complete; and
  • Details of who is liable for any costs associated with the works or the agreement.

A section 278 agreement may be used to allow for any or all of the following:

  1. Roundabouts
  2. Priority junctions
  3. Junctions with traffic lights
  4. Right turn lanes
  5. Improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists
  6. Improvements to existing junctions
  7. Traffic calming measures

Usually a developer is required to pay for the cost of the works, particularly where these have been designed to suit the development, and the costs incurred in preparing and finalising the section 278 agreement. The developer may also be required to pay a bond to cover the highway authority against any risk that the developer fails to complete the works or fails to complete them to the required standard (particularly where a road may later be adopted) or to maintain them during the agreed initial maintenance period (usually 1 year). The highways authority can then use the monies held in the bond to rectify the works. The bond is usually released incrementally under a maintenance period has elapsed after the works are completed.

If a developer fails to make any agreed payments or fails to carry out the works in accordance with the agreement, then the highways authority have the power to close the access to the development site until such time as any breach is remedied.

Section 38 agreements are commonly entered into alongside a section 278 agreement. A section 38 agreement enables developers to request the highway authority adopt new roads along with any associated infrastructure once constructed. Please see our related article, “What is a Section 38 Agreement?” for further information.

If you require any assistance with a section 278 agreement, please do not hesitate to contact our Real Estate team who would be happy to assist.

This article forms one of a series of planning articles we have released. Please see the other related articles as follows: