Unadopted streets

What is the difference between adopted and unadopted streets?

Adopted streets are ones that were in private ownership, but that have become a public road, and are managed and maintained by Lancashire County Council. Streets that are not maintained by Lancashire County Council are known as unadopted.

There are no comprehensive lists of unadopted streets.

How do I find out if my street is unadopted or adopted?

The easiest way is to check Lancashire County Council's online mapping system, MARIO.

Search for the street or road you want, and there will be an information box which will tell you if the road is adopted or unadopted.

Most streets in Pendle are adopted, but there are still approximately 57km of unadopted streets. 

Who owns an unadopted street?

Unadopted roads and streets might be owned by a person or an organisation, but usually ownership is linked to whoever owns the adjoining land. If there is no ownership information, then it is legally presumed that a street is owned up to the halfway point by the owner of the adjoining land. The adjoining land is know as the frontager.

Unadopted streets - repairs

Neither the owners of the unadopted street, or of the adjoining land have a right of access along it and there is no automatic obligation for them to maintain the street.

However, the owners of an unadopted street are generally considered to have a right to do repairs and to make minor improvements as long as they do not interfere with other people's rights of way, or significantly change the character of the street.

Unadopted streets - access

Unadopted streets might be:

  • highways which everyone has a right to pass over
  • private streets which some people have a private right of access over, either by right of ownership, agreement, grant or long usage

Frontagers to a highway have rights of access to that highway. Frontagers to a private street do not have an automatic right of access to that street.

Residents often think that because they own and pay for the upkeep of their unadopted street they can obstruct it as they choose, by putting a gate across it for example. However this is not the case. It is just as much of an offence to obstruct an unadopted highway as any other highway.


There is no automatic right to park on any road, whether or not it is a highway.

On adopted highways, the highway authority and the police generally tolerate parking.

On unadopted highways, waiting might be permitted, but long-term parking or vehicle storage might be a trespass against the owner of the road.


Lancashire County Council can install or maintain street lighting on any highway, including unadopted highways. if there is street lighting on an unadopted street this does not mean that the street has been formally adopted, or that Lancashire County Council has become responsible for maintenance of the street just because it has maintained the street lighting system.

Currently, Lancashire County Council do not normally install new street lighting systems on unadopted streets. There may be circumstances where the Pendle Community Safety Partnership may help to fund such improvements.


The gullies that drain the surface water of an unadopted street, together with any gully connection pipes, are the responsibility of the frontagers to that street.


The Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a duty on councils to keep our land (including roads and streets) clear of litter and refuse.

This duty does not apply to unadopted streets. They are not classed as 'relevant land' in the Act. Clearing litter on these streets is the responsibility of the frontagers to that street.