Consent for permission to obstruct the higway

Special notes

  1. If you are seeking permission to place tables and chairs in the public higway, you need to apply for a pavement licence.
  2. The council has adopted plans to relax some highway licensing rules to allow businesses greater flexibility to utilise outside space to trade during the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions.  Please read our recovery pages. You can submit a proposal to us either as a new application or as a variation of an existing consent.


You need permission under the Highways Act 1980 to place an object on the public highway that will cause an obstruction (other than tables and chairs).

Due to the current social distancing restrictions, you are encouraged to read the council’s “Using the public realm to trade safely during the COVID-19 pandemic” guidance.

Permission for items such as cranes, skips, scaffolding, highways occupation and highways projection are available from Gloucestershire County Council. Please refer to their website for details.

Our “Special procedure for occasional street trading and objects on the highway” provides special guidance for applications for occasional street trading or consent to place objects on the highway where the application(s) relates to some form of promotional activity.

What is “public highway”?

An object can be any physical thing that will obstruct the free movement of people on the public highway.  Most commonly, this includes ‘A’ board advertising structures, tables and chairs and promotional activity.

A highway is defined in common law as:

All roads, bridges, carriageways, cartways, horseways, bridleways, footways, causeways, churchways, and pavements over which there exists a public right of passage, that is to say a right for all Her Majesty's subjects at all seasons of the year freely and at their will to pass and repass without let or hindrance.

It is important to note that privately maintained highway can also be classed as public highway if there exists a public right of way over it.

If you are unsure about the legal status of any highway, please contact us.  You can also refer to our licensing policy for more guidance.

Making an application

To make an application to place objects on the highway, you need to submit the following documents to us:

  • Application form
  • Photograph of the object(s) for which permission is sought 
  • Scale plan indicating where the proposed object(s) will be placed

When making the application, a non-refundable administration fee is payable.

Please note that in all cases, applicants will be required to confirm that they have obtained public liability insurance with a minimum indemnity of £5 million.

Due to the current social distancing restrictions, you are encouraged to read the council’s “Using the public realm to trade safely during the COVID-19 pandemic” guidance.

Determining your application

For new applications, there is a statutory 28 day consultation period.  During this time, any other frontages and businesses likely to be affected by your proposal will have the opportunity to submit comments to the council. 

If these are objections, we will need to refer the application to the council’s licensing committee for determination.

There is not right of appeal against the refusal or revocation of a consent. 

Varying a consent

If you want to vary any aspect of your consent, you will be required to complete an application form and submit the relevant documents.  For example, if you want to increase the space you have permission to occupy, you will need to submit a revised scaled drawing.


We have produced a number of guidance documents to help you: