Unadopted road

From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Unadopted road
Elstree Hill, Bromley - Geograph - 4932063.jpg
A typical unadopted road in south east London, with a basic road surface and lack of pavement or normal road markings
Cameraicon.png Pictures related to Unadopted road
View gallery (2)

An unadopted road is any road that does not receive public funding for its maintenance and upkeep. They are formally defined as such under the Highways Act 1980.


Although any private road is technically unadopted, the term is normally only used for roads that can be accessed by the general public, unlike, say, driveways to stately homes. There are around 40,000 unadopted roads in England and Wales. The road may have a named private owner, but it is more common for the owner to be either impossible or difficult to trace.

Because the council does not allocate any money towards unadopted roads, the responsibility for maintenance normally resides with anyone whose property adjoins the road. The specifics are specified in the title deed of any property, and can include land that adjoins the road without having direct access to it. Local authorities may choose to adopt a road such as a residential street if they choose, but they are not obliged to do so. Adoption generally requires landowners improving the road up to an acceptable standard that must be met before the local authority will consider it.

Although most access roads on new housing estates start off unadopted during construction, these are normally adopted when building is complete and properties are available for sale. This process is usually planned from the outset, and the road is adopted by means of an agreement under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980.

Unadopted roads can cause significant problems for homeowners. While councils will normally collect rubbish from properties along it, they are not obliged to do so. Any potholes that appear on the road owing to bad weather can result in significant expense for residents, though this is often alleviated by residents having an informal payment collection system, so the cost is shared by everyone. The responsibility for utilities such as gas, electricity and sewerage can be particularly complex on an unadopted road, and are hard to negotiate. If someone has an accident, such as injury from tripping on a pothole, they may be able to sue the owner or maintainer for damages, in the same way a similar incident on an adopted road could result in a claim against the council.


An unadopted road in Jaywick

A number of unadopted roads exist around former mining communities, such as those in northeast England. These roads were privately built in the 19th century by the landowners to a low standard of foot and occasional horse traffic, before the advent of the motor car. The roads were then sold to the National Coal Board during nationalisation in 1946. Since the decline of the coal industry and the breakup of the NCB, closing numerous mines across the country, the ownership status of these roads can be ambiguous.

The seaside hamlet of Jaywick, Essex has received attention in the national press on several occasions over the state of its unadopted roads. These roads were originally designed as private access to holiday properties in the 1920s, without any intention of being used by motor traffic. As they are unadopted, and residents are unable to afford the cost of improving them to the standard of adoption, they are frequently flooded and potholed. Locals have attempted to obtain National Lottery grants to improve quality.

External links

Article Rating
Star.pngStar.pngStar.pngStar grey.pngStar grey.png

Unadopted road
Related Pictures
View gallery (2)
Elstree Hill, Bromley - Geograph - 4932063.jpgRiley Avenue - Geograph - 4146919.jpg
Road Basics
Physical layoutSingle track • Single carriageway • Dual carriageway • High Quality Dual Carriageway • Road Widths • Urban Streets • Abandoned Road
Legal typesAll-purpose Road • Special Road • Motorway • Trunk road • Principal road • Classified Numbered road • Classified Unnumbered Road • Unclassified road • Primary Route • Non Primary Route • Right of Way • Unadopted road
Road numbers1922 Road Lists • Classification • Defunct road • Euroroutes • MoT Maps • National Cycle Network • Numbering principles • Numbering anomalies • Disputed Numbers • Recycled number • Unallocated numbers • Fictional Road Numbers • Junction numbers
Road FeaturesAutomatic Bollard • Balancing Pond • Arterial Road • Bott's Dots • Bypass • Cannon • Cats' Eyes • Cattle Grid • CD Lanes • Central Reservation • Chopsticks • Crash Barrier • Cuttings and Embankments • Cycle Lane • Emergency Phone • Escape lane • Expressway • Fingerpost • Flare • Ford • Gore • Green Bridge • Green Wave • Hairpin bend • Hard shoulder • Island • Junction • Layby • Level Crossing • Local Access Road • Managed Motorways • Milestone • Multiplex • No-Car Lane • Oxbow Road • Parapet • Petrol station • Raised Pavement Markers • Ramp Metering • Retaining Wall • Road Studs • Roadside Art • Roadside Quarry • Roadworks • Secret motorway • Signage • Smart Motorway • Snow pole • Speed Limit • Spur • Street Lighting • Surface Dressing • Temporary terminus • Throughpass • Tidal Flow • Tiger tail • Toll booth • Traffic cone • Traffic Signals • Tunnel • Weaving • Wig-Wag Signals
Traffic CalmingBuild-Outs • Chicane • Dragon's Teeth • Pinch Point • Quiet Lane • Rumble strips • Safety Cameras • Sleeping Policeman • Speed bump
Public Transport FeaturesBus Lane • Bus stop • Guided Busway • Park and Ride • Tramway • Trolleybus System
Other termsAnderson report • Guildford Rules • Highway Authority • Highway Code • Motorway alphabet • Pre-Worboys • Primary Destinations • Roads by 10 • Transport alphabet • Worboys report