Adopted and Unadopted Roads and Streets

Adopted Roads and Streets

When a new area is built, the land including roads and footways still belong to the developer until they are adopted by MK Council.  The Council will only adopt them if they have been constructed to an acceptable standard.  For example, they must have suitable drainage and street lighting. These roads and streets are classed as Highways Maintainable at Public Expense, which means that the Council pays for repairs, cleaning and gritting.  Where there is a residential development built with five or more homes, the Council aims to adopt the road so that access to the highway network can be safeguarded.  However, the developer must offer the newly constructed roads and streets to us for adoption, because we don't have authority to impose adoption on private landowners.

Unadopted Roads and Streets

These are roads and streets that are not owned and 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 the responsibility of the owner.  Milton Keynes has several development areas where the roads are still under the control of the developer.  MK Council does not repair, clean or grit these roads.

Checking if a Road is Adopted or Unadopted

Use the Milton Keynes Interactive Mapping page found on our homepage. Enter your postcode, select your address and then select the box for Highways Adoptions.  If the road is marked in blue it has been adopted by the Council and is maintained by us.

Reporting a Maintenance Issue (e.g. pothole, faulty street lighting)

Check to see if your road has been adopted by the Council first. If it is not adopted, you should contact the developer that built your estate. If it has been adopted by us then you can:

Maintenance on Unadopted Roads

The landowner is responsible for the maintenance of a private road.  Ownership will be listed on the property deeds.  The Council does not have responsibility for carrying out maintenance works on these roads.  This includes gritting, cleaning, and cutting back vegetation.

Section 38 Agreements

A Section 38 Agreement (Highways Act 1980) requires a developer to enter into an agreement with us, as the Highway Authority, for the adoption of new roads and footways.  This is the legal process we follow to adopt new roads and streets and ensures that construction is technically approved by our highways engineers.  A bond (fund) must be provided too so that if the developer can't complete the works 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).

If improvements are required to the existing highway for a new development, then a legal agreement using Section 278 of the Highways Act will also be required.

Section 278 Agreements

When work is required within the existing highway, the developer must enter into a Section 278 agreement with the Council. Refer to the Section 278 Information sheet (PDF, 587KB) for technical requirements.

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 by email

Last Updated: 15 January 2022