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18th December 2019

To be Adopted by Councils roads need to be Useful.

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A district judge has ruled that two roads are of so little use to the public that the London Borough of Barnet need not adopt them. Bellway Homes and Taylor Wimpey Homes had applied under s37 of the Highways Act 1980 to have the roads adopted. Section 37 allows the developer to construct roads and complete the development without the need for a formal road agreement with the Highway Authority. Provided the roads are considered to be of “sufficient utility to the public” and have been constructed to an acceptable specification, the Highway Authority will usually accept the notice of proposed dedication and following a 12-month maintenance period the roads will become maintainable at the public expense.

The London Borough of Barnet argued that the two roads, with no through route, were not of “sufficient utility to the public” to justify them becoming maintainable at public expense under s37(2). The roads did not have a wider use than simply providing access to residential properties and by applying its highway adoption criteria policy (and presenting similar criteria used by other highways authorities before the court) it successfully argued that they did not reach this threshold.

This case is a reminder that councils can apply to the magistrates’ court to challenge notices of dedication if they believe that the proposed highway will not be of sufficient utility to the public to justify its being maintained. For further information contact Ceri Riddell on 01223 532753 or click here to email Ceri.