What is a Section 38 Agreement?

Thursday 22 February 2024

This week, we’re talking about the section 38 agreement in the Highways and Infrastructure Design Team - In this article we’ll cover:

  • What is a Section 38 agreement?
  • What are Section 38 agreements for?
  • What is the process with a Section 38 agreement?

What is a Section 38 agreement?

A Section 38 agreement is an agreement between a developer and the local highway authority and is a necessity under the Highways Act 1980. It is a legal contract concerned with the adoption of new roads and associated infrastructure within a development. Once the new road is adopted the responsibility of maintaining the road then passes from the developer to the local highway authority. Section 38 Agreements provide a mechanism between developers and local authorities to ensure newly built infrastructure meets with standards.

What are Section 38 agreements for?

One important purpose of the Section 38 agreement is to ensure that the roads and infrastructure, intended for adoption, meet the required standards set by the local highway authority. This includes road designs, specifications, street lighting, signage, construction materials, drainage systems, and other associated features. The agreement serves as a mechanism to guarantee that the developer constructs the necessary infrastructure to an acceptable standard, before it is formally adopted by the local authority.

What is the process with a Section 38 agreement?

The local highway authority may conduct inspections, at various stages of the construction process, to ensure compliance with the standards. The developer is also required to provide certifications and documentation to demonstrate that the construction meets the specified criteria. In most cases the developer will be required to set up a bond. The purpose of the bond is to protect the highway authority against the developer failing to complete the works. A fee is usually associated with the agreement, which covers the cost to the local highway authority of checking the designs, setting up the agreement and inspections. Commuted sums are calculated to cover maintenance of non-standard items.


To summarise, the Section 38 agreement is a key part of infrastructure design and something we regularly support with the designs we produce here at PFA Consulting.

For more information, please contact our Highways and Infrastructure Design Team directly: