Land designated as road is an area set aside for the present or future use of the travelling public.
Not all land designated as road is currently being used by vehicles or pedestrians. Some land designated as road may never end up being used for that purpose.
The legal definition is that road is an area of land, whether surveyed or unsurveyed that is:
- dedicated, notified or declared to be a road for public use, or
- taken under an Act, for the purpose of a road for public use.
The term includes:
- a street, esplanade, reserve for esplanade, highway, pathway, thoroughfare, track or stock route
- a bridge, causeway, culvert or other works in, on, over or under a road
- any part of a road.
Sometimes the term 'road reserve' is incorrectly used to refer to land set aside for a road but not constructed. However, such land is actually a road whether constructed or not and extends from property boundary on one side to property boundary on the other side.
Roads are managed on a day-to-day basis by the local government, or in the case of State-controlled roads, by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
When a road is set aside and dedicated as road, the road is considered to be open: that is, available for use by the public as road. However, a local government may, under the Local Government Act, choose to close a road to traffic (for example, for works or for use as a mall).
This type of closure to traffic is different to the closure of a road as provided for under the Land Act. Permanent road closure under the Land Act is the act of changing the status of the land from road to unallocated State land and then being able to sell or lease the land or reserve it for a community purpose (for example, a park).
Road closure under the Land Act is only undertaken as a precursor to the reservation, sale or lease or other disposal of the land.
A road can be closed permanently or temporarily. When a road is closed permanently the land is disposed of either by sale in freehold or leased.
Depending on the size and location of the parcel of land it could be disposed of as a stand-alone parcel of land, or required to be included in adjoining land. Temporarily closed road allows a road licence to be issued over the road. A road licence provides a right to exclusive occupation of the road (within the conditions of the licence), but the licence may be cancelled at short notice (generally three months) with no compensation.
Roads do not need to be closed for a permit to occupy to be able to be issued over the road. Permits provide rights for non-exclusive occupation of the land, but may be cancelled at short notice (generally three months) with no compensation.
For more information on roads and occupation of roads contact the nearest business centre. For information about road maintenance and construction, contact the relevant local government.
Last reviewed 11 September 2012
Last updated 31 August 2009