Adopted and Unadopted Roads and Streets

Most roads and footways are owned and maintained by the Council but not all. You can find out about the adoption process and responsibility for maintenance of roads and footways here.

Adopted Roads and Streets.

These are roads and streets that have been adopted by MK Council as the Highway Authority and have been constructed to an acceptable standard.

This means they have suitable drainage and are suitably lit by street lights. These will be maintained by us as part of the highway network and are included in our gritting routes. 

These are classed as Highways Maintainable at Public Expense which means that the Council pays for any repairs, improvements and maintenance.

Unadopted Roads and Streets

These are roads and streets that are not maintained by the council. This includes private roads or new estate roads that are still owned by the developer. Maintenance of these roads or footways is usually carried out by the owner or they may use a private maintenance company to carry out work on their behalf. These are not included in our gritting routes.

Newly Constructed Roads and Streets

If a road or street is constructed by us, MK Council, as the Highway Authority they become our responsibility to maintain.

When a new residential development is built that will serve 5 homes or more, MK Council will aim to adopt the road or street so that we can safeguard access to the highway network for residents. However, the developer must offer newly constructed roads and streets to us for adoption because we don't have the authority to impose adoption on private land owners.

Section 38 Agreements

For newly constructed roads and streets, adoption is generally achieved by legal agreement using Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980. When improvement to the existing highway network is required to facilitate developments, a legal agreement using Section 278 of the Highways Act will also be required.

To ensure that highway works are completed to an acceptable standard the proposals must be technically approved by us prior to construction and the works inspected as construction proceeds. A bond also needs to be provided to ensure that if the developer cannot complete the works then then the Council's Highways team will pick this up.

The information necessary for a Section 38 agreement is contained in the Section 38 Information sheet (PDF, 577KB).

Section 278 Agreements

When work is required within the existing highway the developer must enter into a Section 278 agreement with the Council. Section 278 agreements have similar technical requirements to Section 38.

The information necessary for a Section 278 agreement is contained in the Section 278 Information sheet (PDF, 587KB).

Existing Private Roads and Streets

The Highways Act 1980 provides legal mechanisms to change the status of existing private roads and streets. If you have a question or query about a road or street in MK the Highway Adoptions Team can be contacted on 01908 252353 or email

Useful links

Road / highway adoptions - frequently asked questions

List of adopted roads / highways

Last Updated: 17 March 2021