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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71135
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I own a property that backs onto an unadopted road owned by

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I own a property that backs onto an unadopted road owned by a local building firm. I phoned my local council and they said when the building work is finished the road will become a public highway. I have lived here 20 years and no building work as taken place in that time and there is no building land left. Approx 6 houses must have been built over 20 years ago. I phoned the uk land registry and they confirmed the road is owned by the building firm who are not replying to my emails. I do not understand why the council said it would become public after building complete. Also i would like to gain access to the rear of my garden and possibly build on the large garden i have. Have i a right to use the unadopted road to access the rear of my garden? Also at the bottom of the garden is a wall which on the deeds says shared responsibility i assume i jointly own it with the builders?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What would you like to know about this?
Have you used the unadopted road at all?
What made you speak to the local authority?
Is your query that the local authority said this would be adopted when the building work is finished but there is no building work going on?
Is the garden wall between you and the unadopted road?
Will the owner of the unadopted road allow you to use the road (perhaps if you pay) if you have not used it before?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I have never used the unadopted road.

I spoke to the local authority to find out if the road was public or unadopted.

I can not understand why they said it would become public when all work was finished. i have lived here 20 years and no building work is left to complete.

Why is the road still unadopted?

Yes the wall is between my garden and the unadopted road.

The owners will not reply to my emails

Thanks Matt

There may be a road agreement for the road to be adopted when the building work is finished and when the road has been brought up to an adoptive standard by the developer.
It is the latter that very often causes the problem and leaves the roads on adopted. The developer makes the profit on the houses and then goes bust and leaves the roads.
I cannot say if that is what happened in your situation but if it has been 20 years and the road is still not adopted, that is the situation. Thus person you spoke to from the council is probably correct, they have just not explained it properly.
You cannot use this road without the person who owns it consenting. Before you acquire any right over it you need to have used it without objection and without consent for 20 years. You acquire the right to go over it on foot under the Prescription Act but if you want the right for a vehicle you would have to buy the right by means of compulsory purchase of the right (not the land) from the land owner.
If you have not used it for more than 20 years and the land owner will not let you use it, that is the end of it because you cannot force the landowner to grant you the right unless you have used it for more than 20 years.
If whoever owns the land is not replying to emails, they may not object to you simply going ahead and doing this but there is of course the risk.
Unless there is a covenant by whoever is your co-owner of the wall, you cannot compel them to contribute towards it unless it becomes dangerous. They may like it in a state of disrepair. If it does become dangerous, you can refer the matter to the local authority and asked them to serve the dangerous structure notice compelling those with responsibility for it to repair it. Be aware that although they would serve the notice on you and the co-owner, they would chase you both to have it done if the co-owner of the wall was doing nothing.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The company that built the houses is still in business and the road is of very good quality (no pot holes etc). So why as the council not taken it over?

If you asked the council directly, they have to tell you. I would however put your request in writing and not try to deal with it on the telephone.
It may be that the development was meant to be larger than it is and some houses are yet to be built. There could be a planning application pending.
The road may look very good quality but it has to be to a particular standard and the developer must lodge a chunk of money with the local authority in respect of the road adoption.
Road adoption has to be pushed by the developer and the people in the houses because the local authority will not generally press it.
The process is not a straightforward as it might seem.
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