Estate road adoption

New housing estates usually include newly-built roads to allow safe and convenient access to the new houses. The developers (companies that build new houses) often want Lancashire County Council to adopt the finished roads, making them public highways, so that we will be responsible for their future upkeep and repairs.

We are very happy to do this as long as the developers meet a number of conditions:

  • The new roads must have at least one junction with an existing public road otherwise there is a legal gap between the two and we would not be able to guarantee safe and permanent access to/from the new roads.
  • The new roads must be designed to be accessible and safe for all road users. This will depend on the type of development but will usually include: motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, emergency vehicles (ambulances and fire engines), delivery vehicles and bin wagons. It can also include horse riders and/or buses if appropriate.
  • The new roads must be built to our standards for durability and ease of repairs, including features such as: responsible drainage of rainwater, safe and predictable locations for pipes, cables & sewers, the same types of tarmac and concrete products that we use ourselves laid to the appropriate standards, and our standard styles of street lighting and other items visible above ground.

Once we have agreed these issues with the developers, we are both ready to make a legal agreement. This sets out the insurance the developers need to have in case they can't complete the road construction themselves, and also the fees we will charge for our input to the site inspections and records.

If there is no legal agreement in place for a development, we may not be able to adopt the roads. This would mean that they would remain private access roads with no public rights and – possibly more importantly for the new residents – the roads won't be managed and repaired in the future by the council.

Our Requirements

The Department for Transport publication Manual for streets has further guidance to understand our requirements for road layout.

Unfortunately some local roads are built with materials that are very expensive for us to maintain from public funds, and we have a responsibility to keep these costs down.

With these issues in mind, we have a palette of materials from which the builders can choose and we can support them in testing anything out of the ordinary. Our advice is updated periodically, see the latest version below:

How long the work will take

You should contact the builders to find out what progress they are making with the roads adoption process.

Our highway officers inspect the roads at different stages of construction to make sure the builders are meeting all our needs for workmanship. They also help the builders decide how to overcome any unexpected problems found during the site works. They issue certificates at different stages of the work, and once everything appears to be complete, they agree a final period of observation (usually 12 months but can be shorter in certain circumstances).

Once any final defects have been corrected, we will adopt the highways, at which time they become public highways and will be managed and maintained by the county council.

You can check the status of local roads on our Maps Information website

If the developer fails to meet our requirements

If the developers can't meet our requirements for safety, accessibility and construction before they start building, we will make it very clear that there is no prospect of us adopting their new roads. The roads will remain private and will need to be managed by private means, either through a management company (often a management company will be responsible for the upkeep of open areas around the estate).

If the developers can't complete the roads themselves once an agreement is in place – for example if they go into liquidation – we will claim against the insurance bond to get enough money for us to complete the works ourselves and then adopt the roads.

If we find unacceptable defects in the roads whilst they are being built, we will withhold certificates and refuse to progress the adoptions until corrections are made to our satisfaction. The certificates are linked to the value of the insurance the developers have to keep, and the premiums they pay will only reduce once the certificates can be released.

If the developers fail to complete the works by choice, we don't have any legal pressure we can use because the agreement is not a contract. We will always offer to help them find ways round on-site problems, and we encourage the new residents to raise their concerns directly with the developers. However it is worth noting that if the Agreement period has to be extended, we will charge additional inspection fees to cover the additional time we need to spend on the estate.


Lancashire Highways Service
Customer Service Centre
Lancashire County Council

Tel: 0300 123 6780

Road adoptions