Highways Development Management

Section 38 Road Adoption Agreements

We will consider adopting new roads as public highway for maintenance at public expense where they serve 5 or more dwellings.

In order to do this, the developer must enter into an agreement with us (made under section 38 of the Highways Act 1980).

Planning approval

We will not normally process an application for a section 38 agreement before Full or Reserved Matters planning approval has been issued to avoid any abortive work being undertaken.

If appropriate soils data is not submitted with the application, a California Bearing Ratio (CBR) design value of <2% will be assumed in order to determine the required sub-base depth. CBR testing is required to be undertaken and paid for by the developer on site as directed by us.

For all but very simplistic schemes, the technical audit should be supplemented by a road safety audit. Road safety audits at stage 1, stage 2 or stage 1 / 2 will be required. We require that our service provider is present at such audits. The developer is required to get the audit brief approved by us. The cost of the audit process at the above stages is to be fully borne by the developer. Any road safety audit and designer's response already undertaken by the developer as part of the planning process should be resubmitted to highways development management as part of the technical audit process. The cost of stage 3 audits will be borne and undertaken by us.

A street lighting design brief will be provided by our highways contractor once the application has been registered and an application fee is paid.

Highway drainage should be sited, wherever possible, within the adoptable highway or an existing public highway.

Where a new highway drain is provided across private land, an easement will be required. The completion of a section 38 agreement will be dependent on completion of the easement. Any easement text will be provided by us.


A bond will be provided by a surety, equivalent to our estimate of the value of the works and in the event that construction is not completed. This estimate will be based on unit area costs derived from its highways work contract.

An agreement fee, that covers administration, technical audit and site supervision costs is set at 8.5% of the bond sum and will be charged for all section 38 agreements. If works have commenced on site prior to technical design approval by us, the agreement fee will be increased to 11% of the bond sum.

Once the agreement fee is paid in full, design checking of the development detail will commence. Site inspections will only commence once the agreement fee is paid in full.

Additional design check costs will be charged for any structures within the adoptable highway.

The legal fees associated with the preparation and signing of an agreement will be invoiced separately to the applicant’s solicitor.

Any commuted sums will be payable immediately prior to the issuing of a final certificate of completion.

The speed at which the construction of a new adoptable road is undertaken is a matter for the developer. However, it is usually expected that section 38 agreements will be completed within 2 years. It is possible for an extension of time to be agreed (up to a maximum of an additional 2 years), provided there is acceptable justification but the developer may incur further agreement fee and bond charges if an extension of time is agreed.

Before any dwelling fronting a new road is occupied, it is expected that the carriageway will be completed up to base course of the surfacing material, the footways completed and the street lighting operational.

Maintenance period

Upon completion of the works to our satisfaction, a provisional certificate of completion will be issued. Following a further 12 month period, during which the developer will be responsible for any necessary maintenance of the works, a final inspection will be undertaken. Subject to any works defects then being remedied by the developer, a final certificate of completion will be issued.

Process and application

Highways development management is responsible for technical audit, supervision, and undertaking all the required technical and design checks for which the developer pays a financial fee. It is the developer's responsibility to provide, facilitate and coordinate, in a reasonable time period, all the information required to complete this task. Technical checks are an iterative process for which the developer submits a succession of revised drawings to address our comments.

In order to commence the process, the developer must write in and submit copies of drawings to support his technical submission, along with a copy of the planning permission and all supporting details. We will then send out an initial letter outlining further instructions which will indicate the payment required in order to cover the initial administration and technical audit costs (excluding supervision). This must be paid before the technical audit is commenced. Once this fee is paid in full, design checking of the development detail will commence.  No site inspections, to approve a developer's work on site will commence unless the full agreement fee has been paid.

View the process chart for a section 38 agreement (PDF 73.8KB) or open the section 38 e-form (link opens in new window).

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