Road adoption is a term used to describe the council taking ownership of a 'private street'.
A 'private street' is a road, which is not maintained at public expense. This means that the council, as a highway authority, is under no obligation to carry out repairs or cleansing to the street, even though it could be a public right of way to which highway and traffic law can be applied.
New roads that have been constructed in accordance with the Council's guidelines are normally adopted by way of an agreement between the developer and the Council under section 38 of the Act. Existing roads will not normally be adopted unless they are brought up to current standards by the owners of the road. It may for example be unpaved, without kerbs, footways, surface water sewers, gullies and lighting or any of these features, and its surface is probably in a bad condition. Guidelines are available upon request.
Under the provisions of Sections 205 to 218 of the Highways Act 1980, the highway authority, that is the Council, may resolve to raising the standard of a private street by providing any or all of the missing features or by improving the standard of any existing features. This procedure enables the Council on completion of necessary remedial works to adopt the street as a highway maintainable at public expense.
In 2005 a 3 year programme of making-up and adopting private streets at public expense was established by Leeds City Council. There are no plans for this programme to restart.