Highways development management

Section 38 Road Adoption Agreements

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

The developer must enter into an agreement with us, made under section 38 of the Highways Act 1980.

Highway Construction Standards and Specifications Guidance

The works must be designed and constructed in accordance with our Highways Construction Standards and Specifications Guidance.

Planning approval

An application for a section 38 agreement cannot be processed until Full or Reserved Matters planning permission has been issued. Pre-application advice is available subject to payment of our fees.

Process and application

Our highways agreement team is responsible for undertaking all the required technical and design checks and inspection of the works. 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 apply online and submit all the information on the agreement checklist.

Apply online for a section 38 agreement

Please also submit all the information on the Agreement Checklist set out in Appendix B of the Highways Construction Standards and Specifications Guidance.

Upon receipt of your online application and all the information your application will be allocated to our highway agreement officers who will contact you outlining further instructions, indicating the payment required in order to cover the administration and technical design check fees. This must be paid before the technical design check is commenced. Once this fee is paid in full, the technical design check will commence. No site inspections to approve a developer’s work on site will commence unless the full agreement fee has been paid.

Before any dwelling fronting a new road is occupied it is expected that the carriageway will be completed up to binder course of the surfacing material (or alternatively a sacrificial wearing course) the footways completed and the street lighting operational. 


An agreement fee covering administration, technical design check and site inspection costs is set at 11% of the bond sum and will be charged for all section 38 agreements.

A street lighting fee is also payable.

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 and traffic signals within the new roads.

The legal fees associated with the preparation and signing of the agreement will be invoiced separately to the developer’s solicitor by Pathfinder Legal Services.

Please don't send any money or cheques: you can pay when you receive your invoice.

Road safety audits

A road safety audit stages 1 and 2 must be undertaken by the applicant and submitted to us as part of the design checking process. Stage 3 will be undertaken by us prior to adoption of the works.

Visit our highways and transport guidance for more information.


Highway drainage should be laid within the adoptable highway or an existing public highway. Where a new highway drain is provided across private land, an easement will be included in the section 38 agreement.

Street lighting

A street lighting design brief will be provided by our service provider, once the application has been validated and the fees paid.

Bond and surety

A bond will be provided by an approved surety, equivalent to the value of the works in the event that construction is not completed. The value of the works will be based on unit area costs derived from our service provider.

The surety will be required to enter into the section 38 agreement.

Commuted sums

All commuted sums will be payable prior to completion of the section 38 agreement.

Maintenance and adoption

Upon completion of the works to our satisfaction, a substantial completion certificate will be issued. Following a further 12 month period during which the developer will be responsible for any necessary maintenance and remedial works, a final inspection will be undertaken. Subject to any defects being remedied by the developer to our satisfaction, a final certificate of completion will be issued and the new roads will be adopted by us as highway maintainable at the public expense.