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New UK code of practice for highways authorities published

28 October 2016

The new UK code of practice for highways authorities, Well-managed highway infrastructure, has been published by the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG).

The code is designed to promote integrated asset management for highway infrastructure, based on a risk-based approach to local service levels. The document states that ‘a risk-based approach should be adopted for all aspects of highway infrastructure maintenance, including setting levels of service, inspections, responses, resilience, priorities and programmes’. To back this up, authorities are encouraged to develop appropriate records and make a detailed inventory of highways assets and keep the quality, currency, appropriateness and completeness of all data supporting asset management under regular review.

‘A network hierarchy, or a series of related hierarchies, should be defined which include all elements of the highway network, including carriageways, footways, cycle routes, structures, lighting and rights of way. The hierarchy should take into account current and expected use, resilience, and local economic and social factors such as industry, schools, hospitals and similar, as well as the desirability of continuity and of a consistent approach for walking and cycling,’ the document states.

It supersedes three previous codes Well-maintained Highways, Well-lit Highways and Management of Highway Structures, which are now rationalised into the one document. Local authorities have until October 2018 to adopt the risk-based approach. The previous codes remain valid for authorities until they have implemented the new approach or until 28 October 2018 – two years from publication.

In a statement, UKRLG said: ‘The intention of this code is that authorities will develop their own levels of service and the code therefore provides guidance for authorities to consider when developing their approach in accordance with local needs, priorities and affordability. In the interest of route consistency for highway users, all authorities, including strategic, local, combined and those in alliances, are encouraged to collaborate in determining levels of service, especially across boundaries with neighbours responsible for strategic and local highway networks.’

Among its 36 recommendations are also calls for relevant information ‘to be actively communicated through engagement with relevant stakeholders in setting requirements, making decisions and reporting performance’.

This code of practice is not statutory but provides highway authorities with guidance on highways management. Production has been overseen by the UKRLG and its Roads, Bridges and Lighting Boards. ADEPT is represented on all of these boards.

The UKRLG recognised that there are differences in approach to some matters in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are not always detailed in the Code, but general principles are set out.