Private Road gate/closure

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    Private Road gate/closure

    Hope someone can help...!

    Up until 3 years ago, it was unclear whether the road I have a house on was unadopted or a private road. The council have now agreed it is a private road that should not be a thoroughfare with a public bridle way. The road is not a dead end and is used as a short cut/rat run by a lot of cars, meaning that whatever work we do to fill in the potholes in the road it is undone by the amount of traffic.

    We would like to either block off one end/in the middle of the road or put up a gate with a lock or electric gates to stop it being used by non-residents. Are we allowed to do this?

    Would people that have lived in the adjoining road for 20 years or more be entitled to the code or a key if we put up a gate? (Prescriptive Easement). Can we wait until they have gone to court before we give them a key? To be clear, no one needs to access the road other than the residents - they just use it as a short cut.

    Would anyone else other than those that can prove they've used it for 20 years have any rights?

    Thank you in advance

    Are you clear on the status of the road? Just because it is unadopted does not mean it is not a public highway. If members of the public have been using it for over 20 years there is a presumption that it is a public highway, though the presumption is rebuttable. If it is a public highway it is an offence to obstruct it. There is a procedure for stopping up highways.

    As the road leads from one public highway to another it is unlikely that anyone has a right of way over it. (By "right of way" I mean one subsisting as an easement.) Whilst there is no restriction on the length of a right of way, there has to be sufficient connectedness between the two termini however near they are to each other. Whilst there may be exceptions, I think that as soon as a highway is reached the connection is broken. So, if you live in a long road which is a highway you can have a right of way over all the neighbour's gardens until the path reaches a highway. However, you cannot have a right of way over the house opposite to get to the road on the other side because the highway intervenes.


      If the situation is as you describe, then yes I would do decent quality gates at both ends.

      Did you say that the way is a definitive bridleway? If so then consider the best way to allow pedestrians including those in wheelchairs, cyclists and horses (and yes you need to provide for all groups) to get access past your barriers.

      The other option would be ANPR cameras that link up to the systems of one of the parking companies who then send 'tickets' by post - however I probably wouldn't bother with this personally.

      If the council have confirmed they have no interest in it, tell them what you are doing and get them to confirm in writing they have no objection to barriers provided the bridleway access remains.

      Will you be splitting the cost amongst the X residents who need to access it? If so, discuss what everyone wants, whether they wish for a keypad, or a blipper, etc.

      Also consider carefully how deliveries will be dealt with - both mail and courier deliveries of a morning, and then pizza etc on an evening. Potentially instead of an intercom to each property you could use one of the various doorbell apps that ring through to a smartphone and show footage. Or alternatively you may require people to stop and place a phone call to get the code.

      How often should the code be changed?


        I can't see how a smartphone app would be acceptable for all users.

        You also need to discuss with the emergency services as to how they will gain access.


          If it is a private road then who owns it?
          It could be that the whole length is owned all the residences in common.
          Or each may own it in front of their property (up to the halfway point if houses are facing), leaving the problem of ownership of the rest of the road.
          Or it may be owned by a third party, with residents having a right to use it.
          You need to research this as you would technically need the permission of the owner(s) to do what you are proposing.

          To avoid problems with access for deliveres and emergency services you could gate only one end.
          Or altenatively put bollards, large planters, or something similar, across a midway point of the road (Effectively making 2 culs-de-sac) and 'Access only' signs at each end.
          Either of those would allow free access to the properties but prevent the road from being used as a rat run.

          Is your problem with the use, or with the damage to the surface and the cost of repair?
          If it's the damage to the surface then you may be better trying to get the council to adopt the road.
          We did this where I used to work - unadopted dirt road giving access to 2 houses and 4 busineses, the council agreed to adopt it as long as we paid to have it surfaced (to highway standard) first.


            I just came across this that you might find of interest, it's a House of Commons research briefing that was published last week:

            "Private, or 'unadopted' roads in England and Wales"

            Page 16 covers nuisance and trespass / parking.


              Just to emphasise the points I made above, highways are either public or private. If it is public it may be used by everyone. If it is private use is restricted to the owner of the road and those who have been granted rights of way whether by way of easement or licence. Whilst all private highways are unadopted, public highways can be either adopted or unadopted. Before anyone starts to think about restricting use of the road it is essential to establish not whether it is adopted or unadopted, but whether it is private or public.

              A highway authority has no standing to declare that a road is not a public highway. If a road is a public highway it can only be stopped up by an order of a magistrate's court. A letter from a highway authority confirming its belief that a road is not a public highway cannot be relied on as evidence that the road is not a public highway.

              The first step therefore is to establish that the road is not a public highway. If you do that it is not necessarily going to be plain sailing. Assuming, as is almost certainly the case, that all the frontagers have rights of way you need the consent of each frontager and any separate owner of the road before erecting any gates, even if each one is given a key or other means to open the gates. Quite apart from that, the praticalities of excluding or making life difficult for visitors, deliverymen and emergency services have to be considered.


                Surely just closing one end would deter rat-runners? Residents, visitors and delivery drivers could be advised of access from one end only.


                  Originally posted by Tipper View Post
                  Surely just closing one end would deter rat-runners?
                  It would, but the question is whether there is a right to close one end. If it is a public highway no gate can be erected. If it is not a public highway consent to erect a gate is required from all owners and authorised users.


                    To be clear, I assumed that the gentleman above was speaking on behalf of a group of residents, after discussion with all.

                    If that is not the case, then I recommend he convenes a local meeting urgently. Most of the solutions we are talking about would cost low five figures to be done right. However, gated living would likely add value to homes (though without pictures or maps it is difficult to visualise)

                    Gating one end wouldnt work, as there will be someone for whom that is the best route for their commute etc (though I suppose one end could be gated with a code).


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