Road adoption

Road adoption is where the council adopts existing or newly built 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 there could be public rights of way over which highway and traffic law can be applied.

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

New private streets

New private streets, provided they are to be constructed in line with the council’s guidelines, can be adopted by legal agreement between the developer and the council under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980.

Ancient highways

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

Getting a road adopted

Newly built roads

Any person who wishes to have a newly built road adopted (dedicate a road as highway) can also 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 and the appropriate fees for officer time have been paid. It should also be of sufficient benefit to the public.

Older, established roads

For older, more established roads the person or persons responsible for the road would need to approach the council to discuss the potential adoption of the road.

The same principles apply in respect of new streets and any such work required to the road would be at the cost of those responsible for the road. The road may, for example, be without kerbs, footways, surface water sewers, gullies or lighting, or the surface may be in poor condition. These issues would need to be addressed before such a road could be considered for adoption. It should also be of sufficient benefit to the public.

Free dedication

Roads or land can also be adopted by free dedication. This process is usually used when a landowner wishes to dedicate limited areas to the council without the benefit of a formal legal agreement pursuant to S37/38 of The Highways Act 1980. The condition and benefit of any such road would still have to meet the requirements of the council.

More information

Please contact us for more information on road adoption.

Contact information

Highways and Transport