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As a property development finance company, we are commonly asked about the main differences between private and public roads. In this guide, we clarify the most frequently asked questions on private and public roads.

What are private streets?

Private streets (also known as unadopted streets) can be classified as roads that are not being maintained at public expense.

What this means is, is that council tax is not used in order to fund neighborhood expenses such as rubbish collections, road maintenance etc. That means councils are not legally required to carry out repair work on private streets should they arise.

This remains the case even if the public has a right of access to this private road.

If repair work is urgently required in order to make sure the street is safe, then the council may ask the residents on this private road to carry them out.


Do I receive lower council tax if I live on a private street?

No, the council will not provide you with a council tax reduction because you live in a building that is on a private street. It is worth remembering that council tax is paid to help with all the public services provided, not just for maintaining streets.


Can a private street be adopted by the local authority?

Yes, it is possible for private street ownership to be taken over by the local relevant authority, providing that they meet certain criteria.

For example, the private street in question will need to have met the local council’s adoption standard. These requirements can vary from authority to authority, but may include things such as improving lighting or curbs in the area.


How to find out if a road is public or private

If you want to find out whether a road is private or public, you can check this with the highway authority for the area in the UK. In most cases, this will be the local council.

The authority in question is required to keep a statutory list, available online, of all the highways that are being maintained at the public’s expense.

This means that if you see a road on this list, it will be a public road. If the road is not listed, it is almost guaranteed it will be a privately owned road, even if there is a public right of way so pedestrians can access it.


Is there a difference between a private road and a private street?

There is not a legal differentiation between the two, it is simply up to the local authority and others to determine which to use.


What are the advantages of private roads?

A private road can have a number of benefits. For example, this may be any of the following:

  • Less traffic and noise
  • A greater sense of community
  • More control over the surrounding area


Are there disadvantages to having private roads?

There are some potential pitfalls to private roads that it is important to be aware of.

For example, it is the responsibility of the owners of the property on that part of the street to maintain them if it needs repairing. If the residents on a private street disagree on the cost, it can cause problems.

Another potential issue can be if the street is not completely maintained. The private road could end up falling into disrepair and may cause safety problems.

Insurance costs also need to be considered, as if accidents occur on a private road the cost of a claim could be very high.

Ashley Ilsen

Author Ashley Ilsen

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