I walk my kids to school and pick them up, on my way, there is a house that -most of the time- keeps both of their gate doors open across the pavement perpendicular to their house, taking around 80% of the pavement in front of their house.

Is this legal?

I would think they are using it as a way of stopping cars from parking in front of their house/gate at school run times, but today is a Sunday, and I just walked pass them and it is like that now.

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    Related question: in that situation, are you allowed to close the gate doors (far enough to move them off the pavement)?  (If so, then doing that a few times might gently persuade the owners not to leave them open.)
    – gidds
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 9:49
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    When you say it's taking up pavement space, do you mean the street or the sidewalk?
    – Barmar
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 14:47
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    @Barmar In (standard) British English, "pavement" means what US English would call the "sidewalk". It would actually be more ambiguous to a BrE speaker to say "street", which is a more general term (as in the lyrics "Our house, in the middle of our street"; the tarmacked area for cars would generally be the "road".
    – IMSoP
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:12
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    @IMSoP We also call the sidewalk "pavement" in the US. That's why I was confused, because I don't see how opening a gate into the sidewalk would stop cars from parking there.
    – Barmar
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:16
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    @Barmar some drivers park their cars half on the pavement and half on the road so they won't take much of space of the road to allow other cars to pass.
    – Mocas
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


If this is a public road then, on the face of it, the behaviour seems to be contrary to s137(1) Highways Act 1980.

(1) If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or a fine or both.

The "highway" includes the pavement.

Some local authorities' websites offer a facility to report such things (and some of them allow you to track the progress of your report).

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    Also s153 "A door, gate or bar which is put up on any premises and opens on a street shall be so put up as not to open outwards unless, in the case of a door, gate or bar put up on a public building, the local authority for the area in which the building is situated and also, if the street is a highway, the highway authority consent to its being otherwise put up."
    – WOPR
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 0:00
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    @WOPR - In practice the council won't enforce that. The goal of that is largely to prevent large commercial premises from having gates that open regularly, not individual homeowners being an arse
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 15:46
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    @Richard if this is the case, will there be a point of reporting then?
    – Mocas
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:32
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    @Mocas - It would be better to pop a nicely worded letter through the letterbox explaining that it's caused some difficulty. If they don't respond to that, they're not going to respond to a visit from a Council enforcement officer anyway. Most people act inconsiderately not because they're misanthropic, but because they're inconsiderate
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:37

No, they can't, for the same reason that front doors in the UK are so often compelled to open inwards, even WOPR's wholly correct Comment, above, is almost irrelevant.

Opening a gate, door or anything else across a pavement isn't simply 'taking space'. It is by definition obstructing the pavement.

Whether this particular pavement is a public right of way is what matters, and that's a different question which depends on the particular circumstances. Still, in almost all cases, the pavement will be a public right-of-way.

For a pavement or any other path- or roadway not to be a public right-of-way would require the owner to post prominent notices saying so; saying, for instance, 'Private path/road. No public access.' Not immediately but eventually, failing to post those notices would automatically give the path or road public right-of-way.

In some cases, that rule is so strictly enforced that the posted notice will state '… and the public are allowed to use it until further notice…' and that 'further notice' will mean the owner closes the road for at least one day each year.

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    If the gate is such that any passerby could easily open or close it, one might suggest as a matter of courtesy that anyone who uses a gate should close it afterward, but the logical remedy for anyone whose path was obstructed by a gate that was not in use would be to simply close it.
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 14:50
  • Quite true, Supercat… and so what? Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 22:20

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