What Is The Difference Between An Adopted And Unadopted Road

What Is The Difference Between An Adopted And Unadopted Road large

What if you’ve just discovered that a house you are buying or you would like to buy is on an unadopted road? What is the difference between an adopted vs and unadopted road.

  • Adopted roads are public roads vs unadopted are private roads.
  • You have an automatic right of way over an adopted road but not necessarily on an unadopted road.
  • Adopted roads are maintained by at public expense vs unadopted roads are not.
  • Adopted roads and unadopted roads are both classified as highways.
  • Parking tickets can be issued on both unadopted and adopted roads.
  • Adopted roads are government owned vs unadopted roads are privately owned.

What does it mean if a road is unadopted?

Unadopted roads are private roads but are still regarded as highways. Unadopted roads are those roads that are not maintained by the highways authority or by local council. But instead an unadopted road should be maintained by whoever owns the road.

The cost of repair and maintenance of an unadopted road needs to be paid for by the owner(s) of the road. Non of these costs will be covered by local council nor the Highways Agency.

What does it mean if a road is adopted?

Adopted roads are public roads and are regarded as highways. Adopted roads include those roads that are either maintained by local council or the main roads that are maintained by the Highways Agency. The maintenance of adopted roads is governed by the Highways Act 1980. Adopted roads are therefore maintained at the expense of the public and is paid out of taxes.

Is an unadopted road a public road?

Unadopted roads are not public roads but are instead private roads. This means they are not owned and maintained by the County Council at public expense. There’s often a public right of way across an unadopted road. But the rules of the right of way will usually be contained in an easement. But this is not always the case.

Is an adopted road a public road?

An adopted road is a public highway which has a precise definition and means “a highway maintained at public expense“.

Who owns an unadopted road?

An unadopted road will usually be owned by the residents living on either side of the road. Or it could be owned by an individual or company owner. Although sometimes the land can be unregistered so ownership becomes problematic. If the road is unregistered it becomes very difficult to find the owner.

If the owners of an unadopted road cannot be found then according to the Highway Authority any property that is ‘Fronting‘ the road is known as a “frontager” property. Frontagers are deemed to be responsible for maintaining and repairing the unadopted road.

Fronting” is defined in the Highways Act 1980 as “adjoining”. Fronting includes any boundary of a property that adjoins the road.

Who owns an adopted road?

An adopted road is a publicly owned highway which is effectively owned by the government. The adoption of a road is the process whereby the ownership of private road changes to become a public road. This means the road becomes an ‘adopted highway‘.

Once a road has been adopted it’s then managed and maintained by the council or the Highways Agency, as part of the public highway.

What happens if someone blocks an unadopted road?

If someone wilfully blocks an unadopted road they are committing an offence. In the first instance you should ask the owner of the vehicle to move it from blocking the road. But if they refuse, you can speak with the police for their help. The police can be a bit hit and miss on this point. But they should take action and should be able to fine the culprit for a wilful act of blocking the road.

But in reality this is about being courteous too. Why would anyone block an unadopted road other than to be obstructive and awkward.

Can you park on an unadopted road?

An unadopted road is not a public highway. However, this doesn’t mean there’s an automatic right you can park on the road. You may be able to stop temporarily at the side of the road on an unadopted highway. But you’ll get into trouble if you park your car long-term, as you’ll be trespassing on the owner’s road.

If you want to park on an unadopted road you will need to get the permission from the owner first. Even if you are one of the owners of the unadopted road, this doesn’t give you an automatic right to park your car on it. You will still need to follow the rules that apply to parking restrictions for the unadopted road.

Who is responsible for maintenance of an unadopted road?

An unadopted road is supposed to be maintained by the residents who live either side of it or the person or company who own the private road. But the upkeep and maintenance of unadopted roads is often neglected. If the house you are interest to buy is on a badly maintained unadopted road, I suggest you carefully consider your options.

Houses on badly maintained unadopted roads will not be as desirable as houses located on well maintained unadopted roads or houses on adopted roads. This in turn will affect your ability to sell your house in the future. But it may also affect its market value too.

Can you get a parking ticket on an unadopted road?

You can still get a parking ticket on an unadopted road. If the unadopted road has permit holder parking for example, any person parking without a permit will receive a parking fine. But for the parking fine to be valid these rules must be followed by the council:

The Highways Act 1980 gives the council powers as a highways authority. This includes the power to adopt and maintain roads. Under the terms of the Highways Act a “public highway” means “a highway maintained at public expense” (i.e. adopted). Whereas a “private highway” (i.e. unadopted) is “a highway open to the public“. In both cases the right to use the road is the same.

However, if the road is a private road and a highway not open to the public the council don’t have any powers to issue parking tickets.

Unadopted road insurance

You are not legally obliged to have unadopted road insurance, but if the unadopted road is open to public access you need to protect yourself with public liability insurance. The cost of this unadopted road insurance will be shared between the residents or owners of the road.

What about unadopted roads council tax?

The amount of council tax you pay is based on the property and not on the road on which you live. So if the road in front of your house is an unadopted road it will make no difference to what council tax you pay.

It is your choice to buy a house with an unadopted road, so you shouldn’t expect the council to reduce your council taxpay for this choice. If you think about it as if the unadopted road is like an extended driveway.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about what is the difference between an adopted and unadopted road

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What Is The Difference Between An Adopted And Unadopted Road

Article written by Russell Bowyer who has been investing in property since purchasing his first commercial property in the 1990's for his own Chartered Accountancy business. But his first property investment project was to turn an old dilapidated restaurant into a large 5-bed home, which he purchased for £117,500 and sold for £450,000 (to see an "after" photo of the house before it was sold see here: About). Russell owns a number of investment properties, which includes houses, flats and HMO's. More recently he has turned his creative side to investing in property using lease options. His largest lease option deal to date was to acquire 12 properties worth over £2 million for just £12, which means he paid just £1 to acquire each property!

5 thoughts on “What Is The Difference Between An Adopted And Unadopted Road

  1. I have access over a non county road / unadopted road to get to my property – basically a farm track. It is a dead end and no other properties are down the lane. No owner can be found. Is there any distinction in law between an unadopted road with several frontagers and one where there is only one frontager? The reason I ask is that several neighbours walk part way down this lane to walk around a field or walk further to join a footpath. Representation has now been made to make this lane a footpath to extend the footpath network as part of a County Council Map Review.

    1. Hi AJ, thank you for your question, and as far as I know, an unadopted road is an unadopted road, which means the same rules apply no matter what. But if you are the only frontager to the road are you sure you don’t own it.

      For you to discover who owns the road you may be able to obtain a copy of the Title Register for your property to find out more. You may have a copy of this from when you purchased the property.

  2. Hi
    I would appreciate any advice regarding a dispute between myself and our local council who erected a 6 metre high lamp post next to our gable end without consultation.
    The concrete base and below ground level concrete workings are touching my foundations and I am concerned that windage or vehicles crashing into the post will do severe costly damage to my foundations.
    I have informed the council that under the party wall act I should have been consulted before work started but they claim that as the footpath which runs along the side of our gable end is adopted land then building permission is not required and neither was consultation with me .
    Thank you
    A G Wallace

    1. Hi Anthony, thank you for your comment and question, but I suggest you speak with a solicitor about this nd see what they say about it.

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