Potholes and broken pavements

What is a Pothole?

When the surface of a road ages, it becomes more porous, which allows rainwater to soak in more easily through cracks and other flaws.

In wet conditions, the pressure produced by car tyres passing over the area forces more water down into the road surface, which weakens it even further. When the weather is cold and wet, water that has entered into the ground freezes and expands, loosening chunks of the surface material of and causing faster deterioration of the road. Once a pothole has formed, it will get bigger the more traffic passes over it, as cars driving over the potholes will continue to weaken and dislodge broken pieces of the road surface.

When the surface of a road has weakened over a larger area, potholes are more likely to reoccur. In most of these cases, the entire road surface will need to be repaired or completely replaced under our Highway road surfacing programme. 

!Pothole Repair Programme

Like many other roads across the country, recent freezing weather conditions have resulted in a number of potholes appearing on our roads in recent months.

Reactive maintenance

To tackle these potholes we are continuing our normal reactive maintenance activities , repairing defects identified as a result of reactive safety inspections (from customer reports) and scheduled safety inspections.

To tackle these potholes, additional resources have been allocated to our repairs programme.

As well as this, additional resources have been allocated to our repairs programme. So far in April ( up to the 26 April) we have repaired around 367 pothole repairs covering some 1146 m2 of road surface.

pothole - before pothole after

As well as this, additional resources have been allocated to our repairs programme. So far in April ( up to the 17 April) we have repaired around 250 potholes covering some 530 m2 of road surface.

Resurfacing short sections of road

Where road surfaces have deteriorated and can no longer be economically maintained, we have prioritised short sections of road resurfacing.

Main road repairs programme

We have prioritised some of our busiest roads where potholes have appeared for permanent repairs. These will be undertaken using traditional patch repairs and infra-red patch repairs.

Find and Fix Programme

Where a high number of potholes have appeared in some streets, we have dedicated additional resources repair all the potholes, from end to end. Repairs will be carried out using traditional patch repairs, infra-red patch repairs or injection patching.

These additional repair programmes will run alongside our normal reactive and planned maintenance programmes. Potholes can be reported using the form on this page or by using the Cleaner Brent App.

We continually assess the condition of the roads in Brent, which form part of our improvement programme.


What can go wrong with pavements?

A lot of pavements are made up of slabs. If left alone, they can last for a long time however, often they are cracked and broken by vehicles driving over them, or by building operations. Also, the ground below the slabs can shift ( e.g. from tree roots) , which means the edges of slabs so longer match up, and a “trip” can be formed. Asphalt pavements will deteriorate over many years and potholes can form , just as they do on the roads.


How long does it take to get the defect repaired?

Safety is always our highest priority. When reported, defects are normally inspected with 10 days for something reported as non-urgent.

To be considered for repair, defects must reach a certain level which is 20mm for a pavement trip and 30mm for a road pothole (20mm within 1.5 m of the kerb).
When defects reach these levels, each defect is then prioritised:

  • Emergency defects are made safe between 2 – 24 hours after inspection. These repairs may be temporary to make the road safe, with permanent repairs being scheduled in for a later date.
  • Other high priority defects are repaired within 7 days
  • Medium priority defects are repaired within 28 days of them being ordered.
  • Larger or more complex works, such as major resurfacing of roads or pavements, are generally scheduled separately and will differ in timescales.

Sometimes we are unable to carry out immediate repairs due to other hazards or long term flooding. If this is the case, we may use temporary signs and barriers to divert vehicles around the defect.

Defect prioritisation depends not only on how bad the defect is (depth of pothole, height of trip) but also on the location of the defect. So, a trip which only just reaches the 20mm investigation level and is out of the way (e.g. on a back street, right at the back of the pavement where no-one is likely to trip over it) is likely to be a low priority defect. The same trip located towards the middle of the pavement on a school route could be a medium priority defect, or a high priority defect if it was right outside a busy tube station or shopping centre.

The photos below are therefore given as guidance only:

Road Pothole Priority

Pavement Trip Priority

 Pavement trip priority