Highways, private streets & new development

‘Road adoption’ is a term used to describe the council taking over responsibility for the maintenance of a ‘private street’ or a newly created road.

Most highways in Northumberland are seen as being maintainable at the public’s expense.

The link below takes you to a map of publicly maintainable highways in the county. 

Roads which are not adopted may be: 

  • private streets 
  • owned by one or more individuals 
  • unpaved 
  • without kerbs 
  • footways 
  • surface water sewers 
  • gullies 
  • lighting 


A private street is not maintained by the highway authority but may be maintained by the owners and/or those with a private right of access to the street. 
Occasionally, a private street may have a sign which clearly states ‘private’ or ‘unadopted,’ although this alone is not normally proof of status. 

Trunk roads in Northumberland (the A1, A69 and A19) are not maintained by Northumberland County Council. These roads are the responsibility of the National Highways and their agents. 
Questions about trunk roads the A1, A19 and A69 and information relating to them should be directed to: 

National Highways: 

0300 123 5000 

New roads constructed according to the council's guidelines usually become adopted through an agreement between the developer and the council under section 38 of the Highways Act 1980. However, it is not compulsory to enter into an agreement. 
Where an agreement exists, and should the developer go into receivership, the existing road system can be completed and formally adopted. Normally, roads remain with the developer for a period of one year after completion (the ‘maintenance period’) and, if no major defects are found after that, formal adoption takes place. 

If you have any questions about any of the above highway issues, please contact: