A private street is a road which is not maintained at the public expense by the Highway Authority. The responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of a private street rests with the frontagers or street managers.
Although the County Council has no responsibility for maintenance of private streets it can take any action against encroachments or obstructions whereby the rights of the general public have been affected. The County Council can also promote Traffic Regulation Orders e.g. Prohibition of Driving Orders.
Private streets are, in the main, unmetalled roads which may or may not have highway rights for all purposes i.e. the public at large have a right to pass and re-pass on foot, on horseback or by vehicle. Some private streets contain routes of public footpaths or bridleways and this can affect the normal criteria used to establish the status of private streets. Whilst it may be possible to establish that highway rights exist over a private street through use by the public at large, when a street contains the route of a public right of way shown on the Definitive Map vehicular rights cannot be accrued by 20 years use unless it can be shown to have accrued before the Road Traffic Act 1930 came into affect or dedication can be shown to have occurred.
Hampshire County Council has a register of some 450 known private streets which have been declared prospectively maintainable under the conditions of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. The declaration of prospectively maintainable is revealed as a land charge when searches are carried out. It is however important to remember that the declaration of prospectively maintainable does not necessarily infer that a road is subject to full highway rights.
The making up of private streets to an adoption standard (whereby the County Council would assume the future maintenance liability) is covered by legislation contained in Part X1 of the Highways Act 1980.
The County Council does not at this time have a programme for the making up of private streets. However, where a private street (including cul-de-sac, footway, square or alley) is not adequately paved, drained or lighted the County Council can decide to execute street works and to charge the cost of the works to the owners of properties which front, abut or adjoin onto the street.
The cost of the works are apportioned to each property owner according to the amount of frontage to the street.
The County Council may consider implementing the private street works procedures if a strong majority of frontagers wish their road to be made up. Every effort will be made, when preparing a private street works scheme, to meet the wishes of property owners consistent with safety and future maintenance requirements.