Following on from last month’s article on new developments, Fairfield Parish Councillor Penny Daffarn expands on the particular issues surrounding road adoption.

Housing developers build roads for residents of new houses to get from the existing public highway to their properties. When a developer builds housing, they are obliged to construct the roads to ‘adoptable’ standards. This does not, however, mean that a local council is obliged to ‘adopt’ any road.

Road adoption means the council taking ownership of a private street. Although to those not in the know the word ‘private’ may make a development sound exclusive, a private street is simply a street which is not maintained at public expense. This means the council is under no obligation to clean it or carry out repairs, and instead, the responsibility for the costs of maintaining and repairing the road rests with the owners of the properties that front it.

A new road will be considered for adoption provided that it meets design standards and the developer enters into a suitable legal agreement with the council (Section 38 Agreement of the Highways Act 1980). Developers must approach the council’s Traffic and Development Section to get this process started. There are many reasons why a road adoption may be delayed. In the case of Eliot Way, for example, adoption has so far been delayed for about 15 years for reasons that include incorrect kerb heights. Or indeed there may never have been an agreement to adopt a new road in the first place. As councils try to find new ways to avoid incurring additional costs, it is becoming more common to find roads on new housing estates remaining private. This issue is far from unique to Fairfield, but some Fairfield residents are affected by it – so this is one of the issues that our parish and ward councillors have been bringing to the attention of our MP.