Apply for a licence to plant alongside the highway

What is it for

Section 142 of the Highways Act 1980 gives powers to the highway authority to issue a licence for the occupier or owner of premises adjoining the highway to plant and maintain, or retain and maintain, shrubs, plants or grass in the part of the highway specified in the licence. In practice, any licences will be related to planting on the highway verge. Provided they can be regarded as an occupier or owner of premises, as above, approvals can also be given to particular organisations or bodies, such as Parish Councils or charities.

Who can apply

The applicant must be the owner, or occupier of the premises adjoining the part of the public highway to be cultivated.

Before you apply

An application can only be made to cultivate part of the public highway adjacent to premises occupied or owned by the applicant.

The precise location of the area to be cultivated must be stated. The applicant shall also supply a plan which clearly identifies the area to be cultivated which shall be shaded or outlined in red.

The applicant must include proof of holding at least £5 million public liability insurance with the application.

Conditions of licence

Made under Section 142 of the Highways Act 1980

  1. Where a licence is granted under subsection 2(a), the licence is granted to the applicant only and is not transferable
  2. Where a licence is granted under subsection 2(b), the licensee transfers to the successors, in title, of the stated premises. The applicant shall inform the Highway Authority, within one month, of any change in ownership of the premises
  3. a) In accordance with s142(8) Highways Act 1980, the Licensee and the person who immediately before the expiration, withdrawal or surrender of a licence was the licensee or, if that person has died, his personal representatives shall indemnify the highway authority against any claim in respect of injury, damage or loss arising out of:
    (i) the planting or presence in a highway of shrubs, plants or grass to which the licence relates, or
    (ii) the execution by any person of any works authorised by the licence or by the highway authority under section 142(7), or
    (iii) the execution by or on behalf of the highway authority of any works under section 142(7)
    b) In addition, the Licensee shall indemnify the County Council against all liability, loss, claim or proceeding whatsoever arising under the statute or common law in respect of the planting, maintaining, retaining or removal of shrubs, plants or grass in the highway
  4. a) The applicant shall hold public liability insurance in an amount not less than £5 million in respect of each and every occurrence or series of occurrences caused by or attributable to any event giving rise to a claim
    b) The applicant shall hold such insurance cover for the duration of the licence and shall, when required by the Highway Authority, produce evidence of such insurance to the satisfaction of the County Council
  5. No part of the highway may be planted so as to enclose it or to obstruct the public right to pass and re-pass over the highway
  6. Any request for an extension to the period for which the licence has been granted must be made by submitting a further application to the Highway Authority at least 48 hours (excluding Saturday and Sunday and Bank Holidays) prior to the expiry of the existing licence
  7. No hole shall be dug to a greater depth than 2 feet (600mm) in connection with the planting of shrubs or plants covered by this licence, nor shall any hole be dug within 3 feet (1 metre) of the line of any apparatus of Statutory Undertaker, Sewerage Authority or anyone in possession of a telecommunications licence
  8. No shrub, plant, or grass of a poisonous nature, or otherwise likely to constitute a source of danger, nuisance, or annoyance to persons or animals on the highway, shall be planted. No shrub or plant which has been planted under this licence shall be allowed to exceed 2 feet (600mm) in height
  9. A cultivation licence may be granted where trees are present, but trees are not included within the terms of the licence and will remain the responsibility of the highway authority
  10. No cultivation licence application will be approved for any shrubs, plants or grass that may interfere with sight lines (visibility splays) at a road junction
  11. No shrub, plant, or grass shall be allowed to obstruct passage along the carriageway, or footway. Pruning of trees shall require the approval of the Highway Authority.
  12. The applicant shall keep the part of the highway to which this licence relates in a neat and tidy condition to the satisfaction of the Highway Authority.
  13. The applicant shall not remove any soil or materials from any part of the public highway or otherwise do anything that would interfere with the support given to the rest of the highway
  14. Persons authorised by the Highway Authority or any statutory undertaker, sewerage authority, or holder of a telecommunications licence may at any time enter the part of the public highway to which this licence relates in order to carry out authorised works
  15. The issue of a licence to cultivate the highway does not authorise the Licensee to interfere with apparatus already existing in the street. At all times access must be maintained to any apparatus within the highway.
  16. The issue of a licence does not dispense the licensee from obtaining any other consent, licence or permission which may be required for their works. The Licensee is responsible for identifying and obtaining any necessary consents, licences or permissions from any third parties or other authorities having an interest in the works or apparatus prior to commencing their works
  17. Nothing in this licence absolves the applicant from his responsibilities to maintain access or provide protection to apparatus owned, used or maintained by statutory undertakers, sewerage authorities or anyone in possession of a telecommunications licence
  18. If it appears to the Highway Authority that any shrub, plant or grass covered by this licence contravenes the requirements of any conditions of the licence, the Highway Authority may withdraw the licence upon 7 days notice and thereafter remove the plants and reinstate the highway. The Highway Authority's costs of doing so shall be met by the applicant
  19. The Highway Authority may, by notice served to the applicant, terminate the licence:
    a) on the expiration of such period as may be specified in the notice, being a period of not less than 7 days beginning with the date of service of the notice on the applicant, if any condition of the licence is contravened by the applicant
    b) on the expiration of such period as may be so specified, being a period of not less than 3 months beginning with said date, if the Highway Authority consider the withdrawal of the licence necessary for the purpose of the exercise of their functions as a highway authority.
  20. Where a licence expires or is withdrawn or surrendered, the Highway Authority:
    a) may remove all or any of the shrubs, plants or grass to which the licence relates and reinstate the highway and may recover the expenses reasonably incurred by them in doing so from the last licensee applicant; or
    b) if satisfied that the last applicant can, within such reasonable time as they may specify, remove such shrubs, plants or grass, or such of them as they may specify and reinstate the highway, may authorise him to do so at his own expense


The applicant should allow ten clear working days between the date of application and the date on which the licence is intended to commence. Planting should not commence before approval of the application has been issued.

  • £136
  • for five years

If you're happy you understand the conditions and charges.

Upon application you will be required to pay the fee. Please have your payment details ready before submitting your application.