Adoption and Maintainence of Roads, Footpaths and Open Spaces

The Local Authority may adopt and maintain those public areas essential to the functioning and appearance of residential development. Where public adoption is not practical, alternative arrangements will be required so as to ensure the proper maintenance of such areas.

Local Planning Authorities will approve the size and layout of roads and footpaths within housing areas, taking into consideration the views of the Highway Authority. The Highway Authority will approve their construction and drainage for the purposes of adoption.

Individual or communal parking spaces provided for the specific use of individual householders will not be adopted or maintained by the Highway Authority. These spaces must be conveyed to the householders. Where communal parking spaces occur in parking courts, mews courts, parking squares and widened sections of roads, and are not for the regular use of any specific dwelling, they may be adopted by the Highway Authority. Short-term waiting bays for the use of delivery vehicles may also be adopted.

With a view to adoption, highways details should be submitted for approval at an early stage (except where development is located in Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea) to:

Policy and Development
Highways and Transportation
Essex County Council
County Hall, Chelmsford

Highways will include carriageways, footways, turning heads, verges, sight-splays and forward visibility curves, pedestrian and cycle routes and footpaths. Highway verges, where provided, should make a visual contribution to the character of the scheme. Soft landscaping and tree-planting should be in species not requiring high levels of maintenance. Where the adopted verges are contiguous with private gardens the householder should be made fully aware of the rights of the Highway Authority and statutory undertakers. Covenants may be required to ensure that the householder does not build walls or fences, or carry out tree and hedge-planting, within the bounds of the highway.

Where new roads have been constructed in accordance with the council’s guidelines and are of sufficient public utility, they may be adopted by way of an agreement between the developer and the council under section 38 of the Highways Act. However, the Highway Authority is under increasing pressure to minimise maintenance costs, and adoption will not be considered for those roads which are of little utility to the public, given their private location and small number of units being served. Where roads are adopted, it will only be where adequate commuted sums are paid to provide for ongoing maintenance. Other ancillary areas such as verges, sight-lines and sustainable urban drainage (SuDS) features may have maintenance transferred to third parties, provided of course the Highway Authority retains adequate rights to ensure that the use of these areas does not prejudice the function of the highway.

Page updated: 22/02/2023

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