You Ask, We Answer

We’re technical experts in the complex and ever-changing world of civil and structural engineering design and technical approval.

Do I need to get my development roads and drainage adopted?

Our answer is based on the Link team’s collective experience, which includes involvement in hundreds of projects of varying scales from inception through to construction on site and ultimate adoption of infrastructure assets across the UK over the past 15 years.

Our simple answer is: No – there is no absolute requirement for developers to get the roads and drainage adopted on their sites.

However as you would expect there are number of factors which need to be considered when deciding if adoption of the infrastructure is the best way forward for any site. Each site needs to be assessed on its own merits so whilst we have listed below the common factors to consider, we’d always recommend seeking expert advice.

1. Are there any particular requirements regarding adoption set within the planning requirements for the site?

The highway authority can deem that if the proposed road network is of sufficient benefit to the highway, adoption could become a requirement via the planning consent. Water companies do not have the rights to place conditions on planning consents as they are private companies but they can reasonably delay development.

2. Are there any requirements set out within the land purchase or funding agreements?

We often see requirements for the site infrastructure to be designed to adopted standard but not necessarily adopted.

3. What are the developer’s future plans for the site?

Adoption of infrastructure can simplify future site sales.

4. Is it important that the rights of access and drainage connections are protected for all future occupiers in perpetuity?

Adoption of the roads and drainage on a site will ensure this.

5. Who will accept responsibility for health and safety and road safety matters?

Should the roads and drainage not be adopted, all future health and safety and road safety issues will be the responsibility of the site owners.

6. What about future maintenance?

Should the roads and drainage not be adopted on the site, consideration needs to be given to the future maintenance of these assets. The future maintenance can be handed over to a facilities management company but the administration and costs of doing this needs earlier consideration in the development life cycle.

7. Remember, road adoption isn’t possible without drainage adoption!

Should the road network be required for adoption or you wish to have it adopted then the drainage also has to be adopted by the water company as highway authorities do not permit for adopted roads to drain to private drainage networks.

A few other points on infrastructure adoption….

Typically new highways are adopted via the Section 38 agreement of the Highways Act 1980 but roads can also be retrospectively adopted under Section 37. It’s worth bearing in mind that it is necessary for all works required on the existing highways (S278,S184 etc) to be adopted unless provision is made as part of these works to stop up or de-trunk sections of highway. See How much does a Section 278 cost? for more info on Section 278s.

New drainage infrastructure is adopted under S104 & S98 of the Water Industry Act 1991. Existing drainage can be retrospectively adopted under S102 and a 15m length of connection drain can be adopted under S106 of the same act. See Do I need to submit a S106 application for my drainage connection? for more info on drainage connections.

Finally, it has been known for adopting organisations to refuse adoption. We’ll be adding our thoughts on this to our website shortly, so watch this space!

If you have a enquires about whether adoption is suitable for your site, please contact us at and we would be more than happy to provide you with some site specific advice.

Apr 19, 2022