Manual of Contract Documents for Highway Works (MCHW)

The MCHW suite of documents is being rewritten and refreshed in the second roads period (RIS 2).

In March 2020, the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) was relaunched in a new consistent format, enabling a digital framework for standards content that will support innovation in digital design, construction and operation of highways infrastructure.

Now, in our second roads period (RIS 2) as the government owned company, National Highways, we move towards the update and refresh of the Manual of Contract Documents for Highway Works (MCHW) suite of documents in partnership with our Overseeing Organisation colleagues in the Devolved Administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

What is the MCHW?

The MCHW is our standard suite of specification documents which are included within a construction contract and the Contractor is required to comply with its contents. ​ It is used in the majority of cases when we employ a Contractor. The documents are currently published on the older part of the Standards for Highways website. There is a technical regulations protocol requirement from the government for the MCHW to be updated in RIS 2 and during this period we will deliver a digital and carbon transformation, through the MCHW update programme and by keeping the DMRB up to date.

What is changing?

As a high-level summary of the changes between the old document set and new document set, please see the table below:

Current MCHW Future MCHW

Specification for Highways Works (SHW)

  • Split into 38 Series
  • Specification Clauses

Specification for Highways Works (SHW)

  • Split into topic-based documents
Constructor Requirements

Notes for guidance (NfG)

  • Related to the SHW Series
  • Guidance to the Compiler
Design information mixed in

Specifier Instructions (SI)

  • Related to individual requirements
  • Instructions to Specifier to complete WSI
Restrict options

Sample contract specific appendixes

  • Templates are fine
  • Differentiation in completion quality
Rarely two are the same

Works specific inputs (WSI)

  • Automation with specifier tool
  • Standardisation in completion
Greater control over what is included


Example of the new format of requirements

Combined kerb and drainages systems  
Combined drainage systems shall be compliane with BS EN 1433. Constructor requirements

SI 1.2a The Strength Class of combined kerb and drainage units systems shall be [C250, D400, E600].

SI 1.2b The Weathering Resistance of combined kerb and drainage units shall be [N, W, +R].

SI 1.2c The Material of combined kerb and drainage units shall be [enter free text]

Specific instructions

For a more detailed overview summary (20 minute video), please also see our YouTube training resources for DMRB and MCHW documents.

What are the timescales for the updates?

Initial drafting work and preliminary consultations on document changes are underway. The aim is for all changes to be approved by the end of December 2023, leaving time for necessary notifications to the European Commission as required and publication work in 2024. We will communicate further updates on this page as the work progresses.

Contact details

For any queries, please email: