Bizarre loophole leaves Northampton cul-de-sac without street lights for a year

Tower Hill Close has been without street lights for nearly a year after a loophole in highways adoption.
Tower Hill Close has been without street lights for nearly a year after a loophole in highways adoption.

A Northampton cul-de-sac has been without street lighting for nearly a year after the county council decided their road was “unadopted”, 17 years after it was first built.

Tower Hill Close in Briar Hill was first built in 1998 as part of a new housing development.

But the developers, which have since gone bust, never signed a section 38 agreement to register the road as an adopted highway with Northamptonshire County Council once the works were completed.

Curiously enough however, since then the cul-de-sac had been serviced with adequate street lighting, bin collections and grass verge cutting like any other public street in the county.

That was until January 2015, when residents noticed that all five street lights there had gone out and were not being fixed.

Painter and decorator Andrew Stretton, who has lived on the street since 1999, wrote to the council to ask why and was told the authority could not repair the street lamps because he lived on an “unadopted highway”.

Now the 49-year-old dad-of-two says he and the rest of the residents on his street have reached a dead end in trying to get the problem fixed.

He said: “This road has been absolutely fine for 17 years - so why has it taken this long to come to light?

“Over the past 17 years, because we were getting bin collections and the grass cut, the odd road sweeper - we just assumed everything was okay.”

Mr Stretton says he has been passed “pillar to post” trying to get the lights fixed since.

But all the time his road is so dark he says he cannot tell where the curb starts and the road ends at night.

“I can’t see anything at all, it’s pitch black,” he added. “I know that if you live in his countryside, you don’t always have street lights, but we don’t live in the countryside - we pay our council tax for these services but we are not getting them.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said the reason the road was never adopted was because it was never built to a high enough standard.

“Before a road can be adopted a road must be brought up to standard, serve a maintenance period that lasts at least 12 months, and have the sewers adopted by the water authority,” the spokesman said. “Regrettably the developer has not completed the roads in question.

“The onus is on the developer or administrator to bring the roads up to standard. If not the county council will be inheriting a sub-standard network with taxpayers’ money used to pay for the work,” he said.

But Mr Stretton says that does not explain why the street lights have been working up until now.

On Monday night, the father-of-two took his complaint to the full council meeting of Northampton Borough Council at the Guildhall.

But there he was told the authority could do little to help his cause, although he was advised to seek a reduction in his council tax payments.

Mr Stretton has resolved to do just that, adding: “If that’s the case we feel we should be allowed to get a rebate for the past 17 years we have lived on an unadopted road.”