Unadopted streets

Lancashire County Council (as highway authority) will maintain streets that are recorded as "highways maintainable at public expense" as defined by the Highways Act 1980. Publicly maintained streets are referred to as "adopted" and streets that are not maintained by Lancashire County Council are referred to as "unadopted".

There are no comprehensive lists of unadopted streets.

Even though most streets in Pendle are adopted, there are approximately 57km of unadopted streets in the borough (11 per cent of the highway network) and it is recognised that this causes problems for many residents and the local authority.
An unadopted street may be owned by a person or an organisation, but it is more common for ownership to be linked to ownership of adjoining land. In the absence of any other ownership information, there is a legal presumption that a street is owned up to the midway point by the owner of the adjoining land (commonly referred to as "the frontager").

Neither the owners of the unadopted street, nor the owners of land having a right of access along it, are under any automatic obligation to maintain the street.

However, the owners may, in certain circumstances, have some liability for damage or injury caused to users of the street.

An owner of an unadopted street is generally considered to have a right to undertake repairs and make improvements to the street provided they do not interfere with other people's rights of way. A person with a private right of way over an unadopted street, acquired either by grant or prescription, is generally considered to have a right to undertake repairs consistent with maintaining their right of way, but there may be no right to undertake more major improvements such as would significantly change the character of the street.