Roads - adoption

'Road adoption' is where the council ‘adopts’ existing or newly built ‘private streets’ that are considered beneficial to the public.

Existing private streets

Existing ‘private streets’ are unadopted roads which are not maintained at public expense. This is the case even though they could be public rights of way to which highway and traffic law can be applied.

Usually, the owners of properties fronting unadopted roads own the road up to the centre line and have responsibility for maintaining it in a satisfactory condition such as filling in potholes.

New private streets

New ‘private streets’, provided they have been constructed in accordance with the council’s guidelines, are normally adopted by agreement between the developer and the council under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980.

Ancient highways

Any road that was in existence prior to 1835 is assumed to be a publicly maintainable highway. They are more commonly known as ‘ancient highways’.

Getting a road adopted

Any person who wishes to have a road adopted (dedicate a road as highway) can do so by giving notice to the council under Section 37 of the Highways Act 1980.

The road may then be adopted by the council if it is satisfied that the road has been constructed to satisfactory standards. It may, for example, be without kerbs, footways, surface water sewers, gullies or lighting, or the surface may be in poor condition. It should also be of sufficient benefit to the public.

Roads can also be adopted by free dedication. This process is usually used when a landowner wishes to dedicate small areas to the council without the benefit of a legal agreement.  

Please contact us for more information.

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