Private streets and road adoption

A private street can include a road, highway, lane, footway, alley, passage, square or court not maintainable at public expense.  As such the local highway authority is not responsible for its repair / maintenance and cleansing.

Adoption of a private street essentially means that the local highway authority has taken over responsibility for its maintenance i.e. it has become maintainable at public expense.

The two most common methods through which a private street becomes publicly maintainable are:

New streets

  • Where new streets are to be constructed by a developer in accordance with the local highway authority's specification and the developer wishes them to become maintainable at public expense. 
  • An agreement under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980 can be entered into between the developer and the local highway authority which provides for their construction, maintenance and adoption. 

Existing private streets

  • In the case of existing private streets, these will not be considered for adoption by the local highway authority as publicly maintainable highway unless works have been carried out on them to bring them up to the local highway authority's standards.  
  • These works would typically include sewers, paving, metalling and lighting.  
  • Where the owners of a private street fail to carry out such works, under the Private Street Works Code (Section 205-218) of the Highway Act 1980 the local highway authority may, by resolution, decide to make up the street. However, all the costs incurred by the local highway authority in bringing the street to an adoptable standard must be met by the owners / occupiers of the premises which front it. 
  • Once the necessary works have been completed, the local highway authority should then be able to adopt it using Section 228 of the Act.