Road adoption is a term used to describe the council taking ownership of a 'private street'.
A 'private street' is a road which is not maintained at public expense. This means that the council, as the highway authority, is under no obligation to carry out repairs or cleansing to the street, even though it could be a public right of way to which highway and traffic law can be applied.
New roads that have been constructed in accordance with the Council's guidelines are normally adopted by way of an agreement between the developer and the Council under section 38 of the Highways Act 1980.
Existing roads will not normally be adopted unless they are brought up to current standards by the owners of the road. It may for example be unpaved, without kerbs, footways, surface water sewers, gullies and lighting or any of these features, and its surface is probably in a bad condition.