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Last edited 10 Feb 2022
An adopted highway is a highway that was privately-owned road, but has becomes a public road, managed and maintained by the highway authority (typically the local authority). They can also be referred to as a 'maintained highway'.
Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980 provides that when planning consent has been granted for a new development, developers may ask the highway authority to ‘adopt’ new roads that have been constructed as part of the development, along with associated infrastructure such as drains, lighting and supporting structures.
The conditions of a highway being adopted include:
- There being a direct link with the existing public highway network.
- It being of sufficient use for the public (i.e. having a wider use than just access to residential or commercial properties)
- It being open to the public at all times, and so on.
- It being constructed to a suitable standard.
There will be a fee associated with adoption, covering the cost of; checking designs, preparing the agreement, inspecting the works, and ongoing maintenance of items not essential for highway purposes (commuted sums). There may also be a requirement for a bond from the developer to cover the highway authority against the possibility that the developer fails to properly complete the works, for example if they become insolvent.
For more information see: Section 38 agreement.
NB The term adoption may also be used in relation to pipework adopted by a water company or sewerage company.
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