There are various ways in which roads can be adopted as publicly maintainable highway.
Any road which has been in existence prior to 1835 is assumed to be a publicly maintainable highway, or more commonly known as an ‘ancient highway’.
Where a District/Agency Council constructs new roads as part of a local authority housing scheme these roads can be offered for adoption under Section 36(2) of the Highways Act 1980.
Any person who wishes to dedicate a road as highway can do so by giving notice to the Highway Authority under Section 37 of the Highways Act 1980, and if the Highway Authority is satisfied that the road is of sufficient benefit to the public and that it has been constructed to satisfactory standards the road may be adopted.
The next most common way of adopting new roads today, apart from major new roads such as by-passes etc., is in conjunction with the development of new housing estates. A Section 38 Agreement is entered into with a builder who will construct new roads to the Highway Authority’s standards. The Agreement between theHighway Authority and a builder will allow the road and other associated areas to be dedicated as publicly maintainable highway.
Roads can be adopted by free dedication. This process is usually used when a landowner wishes to dedicate small areas to the Highway Authority without the benefit of a legal Agreement.