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Residents in a private road may feel that it should taken over by the local authority - in other words, adopted - so that they no longer have the burden of maintaining it.  This can be done.  It is, in effect, "going public";  the opposite of "going private".  Once a private road is adopted, ownership passes to the local authority, the local authority have a duty to maintain it, and a public right of way springs into existence.

But it important to emphasise that local authorities do not have a free hand: thery can only adopt private roads in the circumstances laid down by Parliament, in particular in Part XI of the Highways Act 1980.  The law is explained in our book. 

These are, unfortunately, complicated, cumbersome and outdated provisions.  Local authorities are understandably reluctant to embark upon the necessary procedures, both because of the adminstrative burden which will be involved and because they are unwilling to take on the permanent financial burden of maintaining another road.  Adoption under Part XI is therefore now a comparatively rare event.  

While adoption means that residents will be free of responsibility for "their" road, it also means that they will lose the advantages which ownwership or control confer.  Both aspects of the matter need to be considered.


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For more information, please see our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page for more information about:

  • Private roads and estates
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