Stopping up the highway (permanent road closures)

When a highway is created, it’s protected by law. Only the highway authority can apply to a Magistrates Court to have the highway rights removed and restrict public access. This process is known as “Stopping up the highway”.

There are times when an existing highway needs to be removed so that the land can be used for development. These requests are typically dealt with through the planning process.

In other cases, members of the public can make a stopping up request if they believe that the highway is unnecessary. It is those requests that are dealt with here.

It’s important to understand that land ownership is a separate issue to stopping up – the two aren’t linked.

Before you start... 

  • Any disputes or practical matters to do with the land need to have been resolved.

  • Make sure you have evidence of any consultations, responses and attempts to resolve any concerns to do with the highway.

When is a highway unnecessary?

We assess this on a case to case basis. Before making an application you should think about the following:

  • Is the highway used by the public?

  • Is it needed so roads or pavements joining it are safe and visible?

  • Is it used to access buildings?

  • Does the highway benefit the surrounding area?

  • Will accommodation works be needed on the rest of the highway so it stays safe and convenient?

  • Does it connect other highways together?

What do I need to include in my application?

Before sending your application, you need to pay for a highway boundary plan.

Email the Highways Boundary team

or write to:

Highway Boundary & Land Charges Team

Room 348 County Hall
Pegs Lane
SG13 8ND

You need to draw the area of the highway onto the plan and attach it to your application form.

You also need to have had written consultation with the following:

  • the local county councillor

  • any owner or occupier of the land near the proposed highway

  • the relevant district council

  • any relevant town or parish council.

Written consent is needed from any party who has legal interest in the land, for example, other landowners.

Once you have sent us your application, we'll respond to you within 6 weeks.

What happens after I send my application?

Stage 1 – application approval

After approximately 6 weeks we'll let you know if your application has been accepted or not.

If it's accepted, we'll make a plan showing the area of the highway in question.

Stage 2 – highways officer survey

A highways officer will do a survey of services that may be affected by the highway. Then we'll arrange to meet on site with you and the Highways Officer to talk about your proposal.

Stage 3 – appealing to the local magistrates' court

Our legal team will take an application to the local magistrates' court for them to review. The team will write to you to let you know they're ready to start the work and will tell you how much it will cost.

You'll need to pay half the total fee before they begin.

They'll also consult with any affected parties including:

  • Parish council / town council

  • District council

  • Statutory undertakers (for example, water or gas)

  • Adjoining landowners

  • Local county councillor

  • Other relevant departments within Hertfordshire County Council

  • The public (notices in newspapers).

This will take approximately 4 months.

Stage 4 – court approval

When the court approve the application, we'll remove the highway rights over the land and free it from the control of the Highway Authority. Control of the land will then go to the freehold or leaseholder and you'll need to negotiate a transfer of the land with them.

We might have to divert services on the highway and you'll need to pay those costs.

Application fees

A highways officer assessment costs £450. It includes an officer assessing the application, visiting the site, advising you on the process and completing a technical plan.

Legal proceedings range from £2,500 to £4,500 and include administration costs and travel expenses.

Cheques can be made payable to Hertfordshire County Council and all fees are non-refundable.