3.4 Utility services

3.4.1 Location

In the interests of both the Utilities and their consumers, all mains and services serving more than one proprietor should be located in land which is both publicly maintained and readily accessible. It has been recognised that these criteria are best met by public roads and, as well as making provision for pedestrian and vehicular movement, it is therefore a function of most roads to provide routes for underground services.

Early consultation should be made with Scottish Water regarding that organisation’s provision of surface water sewers for the drainage of roofs and paved areas within the curtilage of premises and the foul water drainage system. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency must also be consulted with regard to the provision of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in accordance with the SuDS Manual. All services other than sewers and occasionally water mains, should be grouped in “service strips” located within the limits of the adoptable space with a minimum of service connections across the carriageway.

The proposed location of all services within road boundaries, including those required under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, should be indicated on plans submitted for Construction Consent as detailed here.

The developer is responsible for contacting the utilities regarding the position of, and connection to, any existing underground plant. All necessary Road Opening Permits must be obtained before any excavation is undertaken in a public road. For sewer connections, permits must be obtained from Scottish Water.

3.4.2 Private apparatus

Only apparatus which is owned and maintained by a public Utility may be placed in or under the public road. Private pipes and cables (including those for shared sprinkler systems) are not permitted within the adopted extents (including those areas that are prospectively adoptable).

3.4.3 Service strips

The width of a service strip will depend on the number and type of premises serviced. Normally, all domestic services (gas, electricity, lighting, water and internet) will be accommodated in a 2m wide reservation as indicated in our Standard Details, However, the diagram in those details is only a guide and the position and method of laying cables and pipes should accord with the requirements of the utility companies. It should be ensured that each service runs at a constant depth.

Special arrangements will required where a service strip is less than 2m wide and local widening in excess of 2m may be necessary to accommodate access chambers or where roads have tight bends. Where service strips are not located adjacent to carriageways their width must allow for access by mechanical plant and/or vehicles for maintenance or repair. In all cases there must be a permanent and continuous demarcation of the boundary between the service strip and any adjacent private property (e.g. by a fence, wall or concrete edge kerbing).

The service strips are to be available to undertakers as part of the road for the location of their apparatus and the areas will be subject to control by the Roads Authority in the usual way as part of the road. The Developer is held to have agreed the Plan positions and widths of the strips with all relevant undertakers as being suitable for their service. The Developer is to ensure that a Clause is inserted in the formal Deeds of Conveyance of the lands on which the strip lies or fronts, making it clear that the Roads Authority and undertakers have a right of access to the strip at all times without notice and restraining all respective owners and their successors from erecting buildings, walls and fences, or planting trees or hedges, or altering surface levels, or doing anything within the strip, which would be likely to damage pipes, ducts, cables or other apparatus laid or to be laid within the strip or which would be likely to make access thereto more difficult.

Such service strips may not always be appropriate for shared surfaces. With a well-connected layout it may be possible to accommodate services under the vehicle track. This will only be acceptable if two or more routes for vehicles are available for reaching the same destination, and the siting of utilities and manhole covers does not prevent access to properties, driveways or any rear parking areas.

If a cul-de-sac is proposed, service strips must be accommodated off the vehicle running track, avoiding features such as trees and potential root disturbance. Services could be routed away from main streets through back streets or rear courtyards provided access is secured for, and agreement is obtained from, service / maintenance authorities.

The route of all services should avoid disruption to the use of on street parking bays.

3.4.4 Maintenance access

Ready access must be available at all times to all parts of service routes for both routine maintenance and emergency repairs. Manholes, electricity sub-stations, gas governor housing, internet junction boxes and SuDS infall/outfall should be accessible by large vehicles. The requirements for these utilities should be ascertained at an early stage and they should be positioned so as to minimise disruptions to vehicle and pedestrian access when routine maintenance is being carried out. Special consideration in this respect will be necessary where services run beneath or adjacent to single lane carriageways and parking bays.

3.4.5 Carriageway crossings

Where service strips or branch connections cross the carriageway, cabled services should be individually ducted at increased depths in accordance with the requirements of the utilities. 900mm is the normal minimum cover, ducted crossings for road lighting cables are detailed in Section 5.1. Crossings of shared surface roads should be located at passing places to minimise disruption to traffic flow during maintenance/repair work.

3.4.6 Surface Treatment

The surface finish of all service strips must form an integral part of the environment and be acceptable for general maintenance by the Roads Authority. Services adjacent to carriageways and parking areas should normally be located under paved footways or be otherwise protected when there would be risks of damage from occasional overriding by vehicles.

3.4.7 Landscaping

It is essential that any trees adjacent to service strips are located so that their roots will not damage underground services or be damaged themselves during the maintenance of such services.

3.4.8 Road Furniture and Lighting

All road furniture should normally be located adjacent to, or recessed behind, paths and footways and no furniture or structures should obstruct any road junction sight line. The only services permitted within 0.5m of the rear of the footway are those associated with street lighting columns and joint pillars. Detailed guidance regarding the provision of road lighting is contained in Section 5.1.

3.4.9 Fire hydrants

The position of all hydrants should be agreed with the Scottish Water and preclude the possibility of vehicles being parked on top of them.

3.4.10 Grit bins

At least one permanent, 175-litre grit bin per site is required. For larger sites, we require 1 grit bin per 50 houses or 1 per 100 linear metres.They should be positioned so as not to obstruct the footway or carriageway.

3.4.11 Litter bins

Where remote paths are proposed, adoptable litter bins may be required at either end. The bins must be accessible from a road for servicing.

Adoptable litter bins may also be required at bus stops, and will defintely be required where there is a bus shelter. Litter bins which are not in adoptable areas, for example in private play parks, should be included in factoring plans.

Note: These webpages are for reference by developers of housing and employment sites in East Lothian. 
They provide guidance on transport infrastructure against which Planning Applications will be assessed 
and evaluated, and set out East Lothian Council's procedures regarding the construction and adoption of 
new roads in accordance with current legislation. 
These pages supersede all previous versions of our Standards for Development Roads document. 

01/07/2023 Document release
12/09/2023 Insertion of new section 3.4.2 to prohibit private apparatus in or under public road