Adopted and unadopted roads and footways, Sections 38 and 278

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.

Before we adopt a road, we would look at whether it is suitable to become part of our network. This means it must have suitable drainage and streets must be lit to our safety standard. A developer does not have to offer up a road for adoption and we have no authority to make them do so.

You can find out if a road is adopted public highways using the My MK Mapping tool on the homepage - anything adopted by us will be shown in blue.

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 (including charges) (PDF, 191KB).

If a new development requires improvements to the existing highway, 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. We will only allow construction once we are satisfied with the plans, fees are paid, road safety audits are completed, and when all technical details have been approved by us. Section 278 Information Sheet (including charges) (PDF, 202KB)

You can find out more about this in the Highways Act (1980) at

Naming new roads

We are responsible for street naming and numbering, providing addresses to developers and individuals for new properties and for renumbering streets if needed. Most areas in Milton Keynes are named based on a collective theme, for example, streets in Oldbrook have English cricket themed names and Oxley Park are Hollywood legends.

If a property is not registered through the street naming and numbering process, the address will not appear on the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) or the Royal Mail Postal Address File (PAF), and the owner/occupier may have difficulties registering for utilities and services, getting deliveries or being located by emergency services.

MK Council has a statutory power to name and number streets as well as to approve and officially register property addresses within the MK Borough. Royal Mail will not allocate a postcode until they receive official notification of new or amended addresses from us.  This includes:

  • Individuals or developers building new houses, flats, commercial or industrial premises
  • Individuals or developers undertaking conversions of residential, commercial or industrial premises which will result in the creation of new properties or premises
  • Any person who wishes to change their existing address 

How to Apply

For any new build or conversion of a property you should apply to us for address allocation once you have received planning and building regulation approvals. We will then produce a street naming and numbering scheme for your development and contact Royal Mail who will allocate the postcode to the approved address. Utility companies do not usually install services without an official address and postcode. If your request involves the naming of new streets please allow sufficient time for the consultation process with local ward councillors and parish councils. We would not normally officially register an address until the building site work commences.

Applications will not be processed until the full fee has been paid by the applicant.  When applying online payment may be made by debit or credit card, or by bank transfer. 

What you need to include in your application

  • If you are not the owner of the property you need a letter proving that you are acting on the owner's behalf
  • A clear map showing the site boundary, with a north arrow, showing access roads and the position of door access to the street
  • In larger development schemes it is important to show the type of property to be addresses particularly if any flats or commercial buildings are included. In flatted developments please provide detailed floor plans together with all access points
  • If the development includes blocks of flats or large commercial buildings the developer may wish to suggest building names 


Charges for Street Naming and Numbering Services are applicable for most services other than changing or adding a house name. If at the end of the process you have been overcharged or additional services need to be paid for, you will be contacted by our administration team who can take payment or issue a refund over the telephone to your debit or credit card.

Apply Online for Street Naming & Numbering

Last Updated: 21 April 2022