Taking responsibility for Falkirk’s unadopted roads

Carrongrange Avenue is aunadopted road and residents are having difficulties getting problems addressed
Carrongrange Avenue is aunadopted road and residents are having difficulties getting problems addressed

Roads are always a hot topic for residents with Falkirk Council dealing with hundreds of calls every month about pot holes, drainage and lighting.

But what if the problem area isn’t owned by the local authority?

There are more than 100 ‘unadopted’ roads in Falkirk - ones that are not maintained by the council and are still under the care of a house builder, developer or home owner.

While Falkirk Council has an obligation to take on all streets, they can only do so if they are at an appropriate standard.

Robert McMaster, who is in charge of Falkirk Council roads, explained: “We spend millions every year on maintenance. It’s a large chunk of the annual budget.

“We can’t take on roads that have inadequate drainage or that are made from insufficient materials, it would be an extra demand on the budget. To make sure we don’t pay for developers’ mistakes, there are set guidelines that all developers must follow in order to have the council take on their road.

“It’s in their interest to adhere to the criteria or they are left responsible for general upkeep.”

Most new roads are adopted, but getting an existing one to be taken on by the local authority is more difficult.

Carrongrange Avenue in Larbert is a private road and has been since Larbert High, Carrongrange School and the housing estate were built 15 years ago. It provides access for the schools and homes as well as Glenbervie Kindergarten.

Isabel Wilson has lived on the street for nine years and said the condition has worsened in that time.

She said: “The school has increased its roll over the years and the road cannot cope. Pupils and staff park on the pavement and at corners but because the road is private the council won’t put double yellow lines down. During school peak times getting in and out is a nightmare and there are cars abandoned everywhere. If there was a fire during these busy times, there is no way an engine could get down.

“The condition is also terrible. There are pot holes and the speed bumps are crumbling but no one seems to want to take responsibility for repairing them.”

Ian Henderson from Falkirk Council legal services said: “The Class 98 deal with Falkirk Council was a complex one and there were lots of negotiations back and forth. The council did work on Carrongrange Avenue around seven years ago and it was understood Class 98 would then be responsible for the road. A meeting to clarify the arrangements will be sought.”

Class 98 declined to comment on the issue.

Most unadopted roads are older as a construction consent for modern ones includes a bond. This means a development cannot go ahead unless there is an agreement in place with a bank or lender that guarantees the work should they go out of business or fail to get the road up to a decent standard.

The standard is set out in the National Roads Development guide and the council’s own documentation and Mr McMaster says most developers stick to them.

“It’s easier to pass the standards if you build them to conform but existing roads that try to get adopted have to spend a lot to bring them up to scratch,’’ he added.

“It can mean ripping the road up and starting again and the costs can run into the tens of thousands. But once ownership has been transferred, the council will take on all costs.”