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Changing a right of way

Landowners, tenants or occupiers may apply to the council for the permanent creation, diversion or closure of public rights of way (PROW) on their land. These types of applications are known as public path orders.

Permanent diversions

Most applications for diversions are to allow for:

  • more convenient farming practices
  • the construction of development which has been granted planning permission

When diverting a public right of way, the council will make sure that the new route is as convenient to the public as the existing route. The council will also take into account 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. This is 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.

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.

For public benefit

The 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 when 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 council.

Creating a new path

We can only create a new path after considering how it might add to the convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public or of local residents. We also take into account the effect that the creation would have on the rights of those with an interest in the land and the effect on agriculture, forestry and nature conservation.

We follow a set of legal procedures when considering an application for this. These are in place to make sure the public are made aware of any changes to the path network, and that everyone has the opportunity to state their views. These opinions are taken into account before a final decision is made.

Permanent closures

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.

Consultations will be undertaken before the 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 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.

How to apply

You should read the notes for guidance carefully before completing the relevant application form:

Modifying the Definitive Map and Statement

Under section 53(5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 you may apply for an order to modify the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way.

Contact Information

Parks and Countryside

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