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Unclassified is a general term used to refer to the category of any public road that has not been allocated an A, B, or M number. Many unclassified roads do in fact have a local, not normally publicly announced, classification. This is usually in the form of a C or U number, where C is a natural next step after A and B, and U stands for Unclassified or Unnumbered, despite this patently not being the case - though some authorities (such as Wolverhampton Council) claim that U stands for Urban Classified. Some authorities use other letters, with D being common, whilst Devon Council use L and W. In Milton Keynes, H and V are used, but these include some duplicate numbers for the A and B roads, with the A421 also being the H8 for example. For a list of those currently identified, see Other Classified Roads, which is by no means complete.
Suggestions for increasing the classification of roads started almost immediately after the initial allocations in 1923. Several London borough councils thought more roads should be classified in their areas, particularly roads that were used as bus routes. C roads began to appear as an informal set of classifications on a per-county basis during the 1940s, and while there was consideration to putting them on signs, this was abandoned.
There is no restriction to the standard of unclassified roads, and whilst many are narrow, single track country lanes, the majority are probably two-way urban or suburban streets. Some are also dual carriageways, whether because they are former main roads, now bypassed, or purposely built to a high standard to serve, for instance, a retail park or major new housing development. In remote rural areas, many unclassified roads are single track. In some areas, such as the Scottish Highlands or Mid Wales, they are copiously supplied with passing places. However, in the depths of Somerset or Dorset, the roads are mere lanes, unchanged for centuries and often set in holloways between high banks and hedges. Adding passing places to such roads is obviously not an easy task, so motorists need to take more care, and be prepared to reverse lengthy distances.
Unclassified roads are subject to the same regulations and laws as all other public roads (except Special Roads), and therefore must meet the same design, signage and lining requirements. However, due to far lower traffic volumes on many of these roads, councils don't necessarily prioritise such matters to the same extent.
Whilst the term Unclassified theoretically covers all roads that aren't numbered as A, B or M roads, there are, of course, some roads which fall outwith the term unclassified too. Many towns and villages have a Private Road tucked away in the leafier suburb, which is owned and maintained by the residents. Unadopted roads also occur in partially finished housing estates (although here the intention is for the road to become adopted, and therefore unclassified). Roads leading into retail parks or leisure complexes may also be owned and maintained by the landlords of the site. To add further confusion, there are also some roads owned by the council which are not adopted as such, and therefore should not be considered unclassified. These include roads within parks and, as another example, the Toll Road from Weston-super-Mare to Kewstoke in Somerset.