1.6 Applying for adoption of new roads and paths

1.6.1 What does it mean when roads are 'adopted'?

New roads and associated infrastructure constructed as part of new housing developments will normally go through a process to be formally added to the list of public roads. This is also known as road adoption by the Local Authority. Until such time that the roads are formally adopted, they are considered to be private, therefore liability for any incidents that occur on them lie with the developer. This includes issues relating to winter maintenance.

1.6.2 Applying for adoption

Under the terms of Section 16 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, East Lothian Council as Roads Authority will, if requested, adopt any new road (including any associated footway or verge) constructed in accordance with a Road Construction Consent (RCC).

When the roads and paths are complete, the developer should use form CC5/N to make a formal application for a final inspection by East Lothian Council. When we are satisfied with the quality of construction, the roads will enter a 'maintenance period' for a minimum of 12 months during which the developer remains liable for any defects. At the end of this maintenance period, a further inspection will take place, and if this is deemed acceptable, then the holder of the Road Construction Consent must submit an application for adoption using form CC6 from the National Roads Development Guide. The submission should include:

  • electronic ‘as-built’ drawings as requested for the Road Construction Consent 
  • adoption and factoring plans with the carriageways, footways, paths, service strips, parking areas, lighting etc. offered for adoption clearly indicated
  • confirmation from Scottish Water which infrastructure will be vested in them
  • certification that the streetlighting has been fully tested.

Once approved, the road will be added to our list of public roads.

1.6.3 Roads

All roads proposed for adoption must form a continuous system with the existing public road network. 

In general, we expect to adopt a road (and adjacent footways) which serve three or more dwellings (see treatment of private accesses). 

In the case of a large development, adoption may be on a phased basis subject to:

  • only lengths of road between junctions being adopted, as long as they are continuous with the existing public road; and
  • carriageways, footways, and verges not being adopted separately.

1.6.4 Remote paths

New paths remote from the carriageway will be considered for adoption as long as they:

  • form a suitable part of a general path network serving facilities such as shops, schools and public transport facilities where access to pedestrians and non-motorised vehicles is unrestricted; and,
  • serve more than one dwelling if not forming a part of a link; and,
  • allow access for maintenance purposes, by having at least one end abutting a public road.

Note that:

  • surfaced areas surrounding buildings and intended essentially for maintenance purposes will not be adopted;
  • where paths lead to both front and rear of a property, only one will be considered for adoption;
  • in the case of multi-storey buildings, the path may be adopted up to the point where it is deemed to enter the curtilage (i.e. garden, landscaped or forecourt areas surrounding building).

1.6.5 Parking areas

Parking areas contiguous with the carriageway will normally be adopted provided that their use by the general public is not restricted in any manner. Such parking should normally only be provided for visitors and not for the regular parking of residents’ cars.

New developments are required to provide parking spaces off the carriageway in accordance with our parking standards. Where this parking is provided for residents’ cars in lieu of garages or private drives, it will not normally be adopted and must be subject to private maintenance (factoring) agreements. Such areas must be clearly delineated from the public road, and will normally be behind a footway. It is not usually acceptable for a change in surfacing or kerbing to be the sole means of distinguishing between adopted and private areas.

Off-road parking areas, which have been identified as meeting a general public parking need and are constructed to an adoptable standard, may be adopted.

Service areas in industrial or commercial developments, which provide loading facilities for the premises, will not normally be considered for adoption even though these may take the form of hard-surfaced areas contiguous with the carriageway. Clear delineation between public and private areas is nevertheless required. The exception to this is where such an area is provided in the form of a lay-by to the adjacent carriageway.

1.6.6 Lighting

We have a duty under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 to maintain lighting on a public road and we have the power to maintain lighting on a private road, but have neither duty nor power to maintain lighting in private areas or accesses.

Therefore, a condition of the Road Construction Consent requires that the developer provides lighting to be adopted alongside the road or path it serves.

Lighting installed on adoptable roads, footways/paths and parking areas will be adopted for operation and maintenance from the date of their commissioning, subject to:

  • accepting lighting units from the date of commissioning for the supply of energy and routine maintenance only;
  • any work carried out or material supplied by the developer being maintained by them for a period of twelve months from the date of commissioning as certified in writing. The twelve-month maintenance period will include for the replacement of any faulty equipment supplied by the developer and the restoration of any faulty workmanship found during this period or at the final inspection prior to issuing the final acceptance certificate;
  • any expense incurred during the maintenance period as a result of the developer’s failure to carry out the requirements of (2) above being fully charged to them.

While it may be necessary to provide lighting in communal private areas for security and safety, we will not adopt this lighting and arrangements should be made for its maintenance through factoring agreements.

1.6.7 Structures

Where a Road Construction Consent provides for a road to be supported by a bridge we will normally enter into an agreement with the developer, in terms of Section 79 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, whereby the bridge will vest in East Lothian Council as Roads Authority. If, however, the solum has not been so acquired, the Local Roads Authority will be responsible only for maintaining the road surface.

1.6.8 Factoring agreements

Agreement must be secured for the maintenance of all features such as swales, verges, open spaces, parking courtyards, vehicle chargers and bus/bicycle shelters which are primarily for the use of new residents. This generally requires that developers put in place factoring arrangements for maintenance in perpetuity.

1.6.9 Addition to List of Public Roads

Within 12 months of the application for adoption of a new road, we will make an inspection to ensure that the road has not deteriorated below the required standard.

If significant deterioration has occurred, a list of remedial works will be forwarded to the applicant. These works must be undertaken as soon as possible or the date for adoption may be deferred.

Following a satisfactory adoption inspection, the road(s) shall be added to the List of Public Roads, under the terms of Sections 16 and 18 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984

Note: These webpages are for reference by developers of housing and employment sites in East Lothian.
They provide guidance on transport infrastructure against which Planning Applications will be assessed
and evaluated, and set out East Lothian Council's procedures regarding the construction and adoption
of new roads in accordance with current legislation.
These pages supersede all previous versions of our Standards for Development Roads document.

01/07/2023 Document release
05/12/2023 Updated text to clarify inspection process and 12-month maintenance period