THOUSANDS of Scots homeowners face years of legal limbo over who will maintain their streets, The Herald can reveal.

As many as 10,000 new-build houses are on roads which have not been "adopted" by local councils because they are substandard, previously unpublished figures suggest.

That means many residents are living for years on defacto "private" roads while developers unsnag problems with drains, lighting and surfaces.

In England, campaigners believe such problems are forcing house sellers to offer discounts on price.

READ MORE: The perils of living close to one of Scotland’s new but unadopted streets

Labour MSP James Kelly believes the scale of the issue means Scottish authorities need to get on top of it.

Mr Kelly has been supporting constituents affected by a decade-long saga in Cambuslang, where the local South Lanarkshire Council has refused to adopt a new Barratt scheme after people in nearby streets suffered flooding.

He said: "The experience of locals in Cambuslang shines a light on the issue of how ‘unadopted’ roads can disrupt the lives of people in neighbouring streets in established communities.

"It is clear the problem is becoming more widespread and houses are being erected without proper consideration being given to the surrounding infrastructure.

"The issue needs to be carefully examined by councils and the Scottish Government. "The current regulations are clearly inadequate and a proper process for housing completions needs to ensure that new and existing residents are not adversely affected by new developments."

HeraldScotland: Interview with James Kelly MSP, Community Safety spokesman for the Labour Party

James Kelly MSP

The Scottish numbers have been calculated by an architect and retired senior strategic planner who has peppered local authorities with Freedom of Information requests.

READ MORE: The perils of living close to one of Scotland’s new but unadopted streets

Dave Sutton, who is also a former Labour councillor in Bristol, reckons there are now some 20,000 new homes which are not on adopted road.

He added: "My summation is that some 50% of these will move through the adoption process - but which can often take 2 to 3 years. So more than 10,000 (and rising) likely to be with an adoption problem."

Ever since 1984 Scottish councils have taken over privately built roads from housing developers - as long as they meet standards.

Public sector insiders stress that adoption can be a long and drawn-out process as roads officials pressurise developers to get their streets up to scratch.

Cash-strapped councils already have a huge backlog in roads and lighting repairs and do no want to take on extra work and costs that should have been done by private builders.

Getting precise figures on how many people or homes are affected by non-adopted roads is almost impossible.

That is because different councils count the issue in different ways. Glasgow, for example, as of 2017, had 272 development sites were roads were not adopted. Neighbouring East Dunbartonshire had 23 developments with around 1400 homes. Falkirk, again as of 2017, had one road that was still to be adopted 20 years after it was built.

This is on top of the many pre-1984 private roads already scattered across Scotland - where homeowners are expected to pay the upkeep.

Stewart Turner, of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, chairs the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland. He said: "Owners of private roads may request that their road be adopted by the roads authority and provided this road joins the public road and it is to a standard acceptable to the roads authority, then it would be adopted.

"Also roads authorities may ask the frontagers of private roads to make improvement and they may, if they consider appropriate, contribute to this cost. "Throughout Scotland the various Roads Authorities have a different approach to this power.

"However taking into account the Roads Authorities’ primary responsibility to maintain the public roads then it is considered important that the available resource is directed to the public roads. Additional financial resource would be required to improve the extensive private road network."

Mr Sutton has been in a lengthy correspondence with the Scottish Government over what he sees as its failure to keep track of the scale of the issue.

A spokesman for the government said: "We do not collect information on roads’ adoption status, as that is a matter for local authorities, who are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of roads they have adopted.

"Un-adopted or private roads are the responsibility of housing developers or private home owners, who should consult their relevant local authority on adoption arrangements."