Frequently Asked Questions about Highway Law
1 What is a public highway?
It is a way that all members of the public have a right of passage over. A vehicular highway consists of a carriageway, footways (if any) and verges. Norfolk County Council is the Highways Authority and responsible for all the county's roads (except the trunk roads - A11, A47 and A12)
2 Is there a standard width of verge?
No, the width of the highway verge varies greatly. It can be as wide as 30 metres or more…
or there may be no verge at all
3 Is there a map or list of Norfolk's public highways?
Norfolk County Council maintains two sets of records:
A list of roads maintained at the public expense (public highways)
A Definitive Map and statements that record Public Rights of Way.
4 Can I see the map showing the highway boundaries?
There is no single document. Records of highway boundaries are held in different ways, including the Council's digital system and on microfiche (photographs of documents). If we get an enquiry about highway boundaries,
we will try to confirm the extent of the boundary. This process can take anything from a few minutes to many months, if detailed investigations are needed. We can send you a plan for your property once the boundary has been confirmed, but there may be a charge to cover our costs.
5 The road I live on does not appear on the Definitive Map, so is it private?
The Definitive Map shows Public Rights of Ways only. These are byways open to all traffic (including roads that are not used much by vehicle traffic), bridleways and footpaths.
6 My deeds show that I own the land you say is highway. Does this mean it isn’t highway?
As the Highway Authority, we rarely own the land which the highway runs over. Most people own the land up to the middle of their road, but don‟t
realise it is only the subsoil that they own and the control of the land and its surface lies with the Highways Authority.
The plan below helps to explain this
The adopted highway is shown hatched green on this plan. The dotted area is land shown in the householder‟s deeds as being in their ownership. As you‟ll see, there is an overlap of the two. Not only is this possible, but is often the case. The highway rights exist over subsoil not owned by the Highway Authority.
7 The Land Registry shows my boundary as being included within the verge. Does this mean it is my land?
Yes – there are many cases where land that forms part of the highway has been registered in the past to the adjacent landowner. However, it is also
highway. Nowadays, we are often consulted by Land Registry on applications and we do object to any land being registered that is highway. This helps to make sure that the public is better informed about the status of the land. Some highway land may still be registered to landowners, but this does not alter its status as highway.
8 So even if I own the land, it is registered and I have maintained it for years, I still can’t do what I want with it?
That‟s correct. “Once a highway – always a highway” is the legal rule. A
Licence to Cultivate the Highway can often be granted that will allow you to cut and maintain the verge. In some cases, you can even grow plants –
subject to restrictions to protect access for highway users. Please contact us for further information.