I live on an unadopted rural lane in Suffolk which leads to a new housing
development. A Sansbury shopper in a Shogun ripped her tyres on the granite
boulders outside my house. When the 'Man from the Council' came round to ask
me to remove the boulders from my grass verge, I waited until he was in full
flight before I mentioned that the lane was unadopted. He had not known
this, but was clearly unaware of the rights and wrongs of the situation.
Before I delve into it, does anyone have any shortcuts I can take to get the
information I need to pre-empt any problems?
Well, I have given up. On my presumably adopted rural lane in Suffolk,
any place that doesn't have a bank, hedge or ditch becomes a passing
place. If its outside your house, it becomes a parking place for
We scooped out the corrugated mud and slapped in 6 inches of crushed
limestone. Now soil and dead leaves are covering it, and eventually it
will become a bit of green road no doubt :-)
The MftC admitted the grass verge was yours then?
Did you catch why he thought you had to remove
these boulders that someone had left there?
He was probably trying to claim a requirement under the
Highways Act 1980, which also has some provisions for
footpaths, bridlewys and roads not publicly maintained.
Not online at hmso.gov.uk, but there are some sections
in the Green Lanes Association site at:
He will 'get back to me' after Christmas, though conceded
that IF the road is unadopted then... he isn't sure!
I telephoned the Council in 2001 and was
assured the lane was unadopted. I assume
(uh-oh) the verge(garden?) is mine, and so
my responsibility, but from a brief browse
I get the impression that different councils
respond to this question in different ways.
Suffolk has no mention of them online and
seemed very reluctant to give out info.
Such deviousness never occurred to me (until now)
but while he still thought it was Council property he
advised me that I would be liable if a claim were
made against me (for presumably knackering
Who owns the lane, and who has a right of access down
it, and for what sort of defined traffic? Does the
driver of the Shogun (or anyone else) have a right of
access down that lane for the purpose of using it as
a through road? Might be a useful to know if the
driver of the Shogun was trespassing on private land
The lane runs from the B road in the village and feeds a recent (10yrs)
housing development, it also gives tractor access to farmland - so 'through'
traffic all perfectly legit. The middle (where I am) section of the lane is
unadopted, and I would guess that the 'new' road in the housing development
is also unadopted. The only problem I used to have was when people drove up
onto my soft grass bank to pass an oncoming vehicle, instead of pulling in
at various places available either side of my section. The small (250mm)
boulders worked a treat, and I had no complaints for years. But the Shogun
driver is a 'local boy done good' millionaire's wife - and she probably
thinks 'she' owns the lane - and only asked the Council to hassle me when
her husband moaned about the cost of her new tyres (if I've read it right).
I'm waiting for the Council to get back to me...
| "Tony Williams" wrote
| > Who owns the lane, and who has a right of access down
| > it, and for what sort of defined traffic?
| The lane runs from the B road in the village and feeds a recent (10yrs)
| housing development, it also gives tractor access to farmland - so
| 'through' traffic all perfectly legit.
Not necessarily. There may be access for farm vehicles to adjacent farmland
but not general access to the public or to owners of new dwellings.
| The only problem I used to have was when people drove up onto my
| soft grass bank to pass an oncoming vehicle, instead of pulling in
| at various places available either side of my section. The small
| (250mm) boulders worked a treat, and I had no complaints for years.
You need to find out who *owns* the land which forms the road (including
what you describe as /your/ soft grass bank) and what rights of access have
been granted to others. This should all have been explained to you by your
solicitor when you purchased the property and when the new housing was
built, and it would probably be best to speak to him first, as it will
involve checking your deeds and local land registry.
If you own or jointly own the unadopted road or any part of it, it may be
very prudent to get a public liability insurance policy.
Thanks for all that. There was no mention of any of this when I bought the
property - it was a casual remark by a neighbour which I followed up with a
call to the Council and they confirmed the lane's unadopted status. I'll
look into it.
I've just read through my copy of the original search - which states that
the road is publicly maintained! IIRC, six months after I moved in my
neighbour suggested that the road was unadopted, and the local council
confirmed it. Obviously I need to clarify the situation.
On Wed, 17 Dec 2003 16:34:46 -0000, gilbert wrote:
Find a new solicitor this should have been highlighted. You might find
you have no right of access to your property, not very likely but...
Of course the council may have fupped up your orginal query about the
lane and it *is* adopted. Either way you need to find out it's true
status, who owns it, what rights you have to use it and what rights
others have to use it. And who is potentially liable should some one
damage their tyres on it. B-)
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
"Colin Wilson" wrote
| > If you own or jointly own the unadopted road or any part of it,
| > it may be very prudent to get a public liability insurance policy.
| This may well be included in house insurance IIRC
House insurance usually has a public liability element but this almost
certainly does not apply outside the boundary of the actual insured
Unless the policy specifically includes PL for an adjacent unadopted road,
in the event of a claim the insurers will respond 'We offered insurance for
an ordinary house and private garden, not for an area routinely used by the
public. You failed to disclose this material fact to us on the proposal and
your insurance is therefore void".
For the same reason anyone with a public footpath or right of way through
their garden should inform their insurer.
If the OP owns or jointly owns the unadopted road or any part of it he is
responsible for the safety of the public using that road.
Check with the land registry and see if there is a registered owner for the
Even if there is by the way, it doesn't mean you are not the owner. There
are still the laws of adverse possession, and if you have held the land for
over 12 years, it effectively yours! This is especially true of the verge as
opposed to the lane.
If you are the owner its possible she was trespassing by using the lane at
Easements etc. may not exist if the lane and the properties in it ( not the
new houses) are quite old ( pre town and country planning act 1951) but
there are rules which allow such easement by convention , even if not
written. Similar rules apply to unregistered and unadopted lanes concerning
maintenance and access rights.
Ask the land registry, they usually know more than the council about the
If the lane is unadopted I believe ( from living in such a lane myself -
although mine is not a through road to nowhere other than into the Tamar
river if someone wants to drive up to it and drown in there!) that the law
states that you are responsible for the upkeep of that road and own that
road within the boundary lines of your property and extending out to the
centre of the road/lane. The other half belongs to any person bordering the
side of the lane.
There may in fact be no right of way through for cars.
*my* lane is a public footpath - and that means people on foot only are
able to walk up it. No cars except for access to the two properties ( mine
and my nearest neighbour up the lane)
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