Gates and structures on rights of way

You must apply for permission to put up a new gate or other structure on, or near, a public footpath or bridleway on your land.

To apply, you need to fill in the form under the How to apply section below.

We cannot authorise new gates or stiles on restricted byways or byways open to all traffic.

Apply to put up a new gate on or near a public footpath or bridleway

You must apply to us for permission to erect (put up) or alter a new structure on a public footpath or bridleway on your land.

A new structure means a gate or other work which is used to control the movement of animals on agricultural land. 

This also includes for forestry purposes or for breeding or keeping horses.

Pedestrian gate on Winkfield footpath 6

Other circumstances where structures such as gates may be allowed include:

  • structures proven to be required for the purpose of safeguarding the public
  • where the Definitive Map and Statement records the presence of a structure as a limitation on the right of way

Stiles are not suitable for people with mobility problems, or using wheelchairs or pushing prams or buggies.

Find out how we have been working to make the rights of way network more accessible to users. View our Improving our rights of way page.

Who can apply

The landowner, occupier or lessee of the land can apply. They must get consent from everyone who would be affected by the proposal.

How to apply

Before filling in your application, read our terms and conditions below. These give an overview of new gate requirements.

Once you have read the terms and conditions, fill in our application form. Email the completed form to us, or send it to the address given on the form.

Where other people are affected, get them to fill in the consent form. Attach their consent form to your application and send it back to us.

Processing your application

It takes 4 to 6 weeks for us to decide on applications. If more local consultation is needed, this could take longer.

If we approve your application, we will send you a certificate of authorisation. The new gate will be added as a land charge to the property concerned.

We will inspect new gates once they are installed. This is necessary to make sure they conform to your application.

We charge an administration fee for processing applications:

  • £50 for 1 location
  • £10 extra charge for each new gate in the same place

Terms and conditions

New gates must always be accessible. They cannot be locked.

The gates need to be suitable for use by all users. They must not cause inconvenience to the public.

There are several stock proof designs of gates which provide easy public access.

The gates will ideally allow access to the footpath or bridleway for maintenance purposes. This might require access by heavy machinery to carry out vegetation or surfacing work. Where this is not possible, we will need to agree access for maintenance requirements with the landowner.

Our authorisation only covers the gate specified in the application. It is relevant for only as long as it is necessary to prevent the movement of animals on agricultural land.

If the use or management of the land changes and the gate is no longer necessary for the purpose set out in the application, the authorisation will lapse. The landowner have to remove the gate, restoring free passage along the right of way.

Gates will be the property of the landowner and their successors in title.

The property owner or occupier will be responsible for maintaining and keeping the gate in a good and safe condition.

Gates will need to be made of a suitable material. 

They will be constructed to a specification that conforms to the British Standard for Gaps, Gates and Stiles (BS5709:2018):

  • shall meet the needs of the land manager
  • shall give users the space to pass through and close a gate
  • structures must be set back by at least 4 metres, some footpaths 2 metres, from the roads
  • latches and opening handles must be clearly visible
  • must continue to be compliant
  • the ground must be free of standing surface water
  • the ground slope must be less than 1 in 6
  • no barbed wire or electric fence within 1 metre
  • there must not be anything that is likely to catch clothes or cause injury
  • self-closing bridle gates to have a closing time, from fully open, of more than 8 seconds

Gates must be fitted and maintained with a suitable latch. This will need to be easily opened and closed by lawful users from both sides of the gate. On bridleways, the latch must be positioned so that it can be operated from horseback and foot without difficulty.

Gates must follow the BS standard. Footpaths are 1.1 metres and bridleways are 1.525 meters (internal post widths).

No part of the gate will be used to keep wire taut in adjoining fencing.

No water troughs or feeders are to be located within 10 metres of the gate.

We will be allowed to affix rights of way waymarkers or information signs to the gate.

Types of unauthorised structures

Structures put on footpaths and bridleways without permission could constitute an obstruction.

An obstructed path is one where something is lying, or has been placed, across the path which physically prevents pedestrians from using all or part of that path.

As the owner or occupier of land with a public right of way across it, you must avoid putting obstructions on or across the route. This includes:

  • permanent or temporary fences
  • walls
  • hedgerows
  • padlocked gates
  • barbed wire

You must make sure vegetation does not encroach onto the route from the sides or above. There are different height and width clearances needed for users of different types of routes. For example, a horse rider will need greater clearance than a pedestrian.

Removal of unauthorised structures

Under section 137 of the Highways Act 1980, it is a criminal offence to block or obstruct a public right of way without lawful authority or excuse.

It is our duty, as a Highway Authority, and under Section 130 of the Highways Act 1980, to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of any highway.

We may require removal of the gate, or require the applicant to remove it themselves, if it is in breach of any of the conditions or legislation.

New fencing

Fences must not obstruct or encroach on the width of a right of way.

Barbed wire is a hazard to rights of way users. It is not acceptable on or near rights of way, where it is likely to cause injury.

It must never be fixed on the side of the fencing that faces the right of way. It must not be on or around posts which form part of a stile or gate.

Electric fencing is subject to the same rules as other fencing. It must not:

  • encroach on the width of a right of way
  • be erected across a right of way without our authorisation

Clear warning signs must be displayed at regular intervals indicating a fence near a right of way is electrified.

If you are not sure what width needs maintaining, contact us using our online form below.

More information

You can find more information from these websites:

Contact information

Parks and Countryside

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