Applying for diversions and alterations

Signage at Hawthorndale Lane

Applications from landowners

Landowners, lessees or occupiers may apply to the borough council for the creation, diversion or closure of Public Rights Of Way (PROW) on their land. These applications are known as Public Path Orders. You can download an application form and further guidance from this page.

If works need to be carried out which are potentially going to affect a PROW (such as works by utility companies) then the PROW may need to be temporarily closed and a diversion route provided. In this instance a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order will need to be applied for.


Most applications for diversions are either to allow for more convenient farming practice or the construction of development which has been granted planning permission. In the former case the applicant has to show that the diversion would be in their or the public’s interest, or both. However, the borough council, in agreeing to process the application (it is a power and not a duty), has to be sure that the new route will be substantially as convenient to the public. It also has to take account of the effect of the diversion on public enjoyment of the path or way as a whole.

The route of a public right of way must not be moved unless the change has first been authorised by a legal order, known as a diversion order. This can only be made by the relevant Highway Authority or the Secretary of State. We will process your application with administrative and advertising costs normally charged to the applicant.

Application guidance

Any work needed to bring the condition of new routes up to an acceptable standard will normally be required of the applicant, although the legally required signposts may be supplied by the council.

It is a good idea to seek the views of the local group of the Ramblers’ Association, the British Horse Society and the Open Spaces Society, as well as the parish or town council when formulating proposals to affect footpaths and bridleways. This can help to prevent delays occurring at later stages of the applications, which can be costly. For example, objections not withdrawn can lead to a public inquiry which could be held as much as one year from the order date. This might hold up new farming practices or development, because the old legal line of the way must remain open until an order is confirmed. Early consultation also helps to generate a climate for negotiation between interested parties. Very often an acceptable proposal can be worked out before the formal order-making stage is reached.


Applications for closure of footpaths and bridleways are less common, as the grounds for making them can only be that the path or way is not needed for public use. With the increasing use of the rights of way network, such proposals are normally opposed so that it is difficult for them to succeed. Consultations will be undertaken before the borough council decides to proceed. Even if a closure order is made, the statutory public representation period may well prompt formal objections. If these are not withdrawn, the borough council has to decide whether to forward the order to the Secretary of State for the Environment (who would probably hold a public inquiry), or not to proceed with the order at all.

Exactly the same procedures apply to diversion orders if objections are received to them. Use the same form on this page to apply for footpath or bridleway closures.

For public benefit

The borough council can initiate diversion proposals which will benefit the public, from a recreational viewpoint, and the landowner. In such cases the council will meet the costs of processing the orders. Sometimes schemes involve closure of old, little used paths provided new rights of way are created nearby which will be useful to the public. New footpaths and bridleways can be established by a landowner by entering into ‘creation agreements’ with the borough council.

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