Definitive Map and Statement
A map of the rights of way in the borough and how to apply to change it
If a way is shown on the Definitive Map and Statement, it's conclusive evidence of public rights along the way. The map may be subject to change, however, so the fact that a way is not shown on the map is not proof that the public has no rights over it.
Legally, the council must keep the Definitive Map and Statement under continuous review. It also has a duty to investigate applications, add or delete rights of way or change their status by upgrading or downgrading.
Making changes to the Definitive Map and Statement
Anyone can apply to the council to make changes to the Definitive Map and Statement through a Modification Order or a Public Path Order. This is a legal procedure and must be followed precisely or the application may be invalid. An application pack with information on this procedure is available and those interested should consult the rights of way officer.
Note: there may be charges for these applications.
A Modification Order is used to add a new right of way to the Definitive Map and Statement. Claims for a new right of way can be based on:
- public use
- documentary evidence that implies a right of way exists
- documentary evidence that implies that there are higher rights on an existing path
To claim a new right of way based on public use, the route must have been used for twenty years or more, without interruption, before the use was brought into question.
Landowners can refute a claim for a new route if they can show they did not intend to dedicate the land to the public and had taken measures to stop rights being established, such as the erection of notices or barriers, or by locking a gate.
The landowner can provide the highway authority with a map, statement and statutory declaration showing the ways (if any) that they admit are dedicated as highways. This enables landowners to protect themselves against claims for public rights of way made solely on use.
Note: this procedure rebuts any intention of dedication in the future only. It cannot take away any claims based on past use or overcome any claims based on documentary evidence.
Routes can be added to the Definitive Map and Statement if historical documentary evidence shows they existed in the past and these rights still legally exist. Historical documentation such as Inclosure Awards and Maps, Tithe Awards and Maps and Parish records can support applications for new rights of way.
Public Path Orders
Public Path Orders can be used to stop up, create or divert rights of way. Applications follow a strict legal procedure, which allows for public and statutory bodies, such as the Ramblers Association, to be consulted before a decision is reached.
Creating a new path
Before creating a new path, the following should be considered (under section 26 of the Highways Act 1980):
- The extent to which the route would add to the convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public, or to the convenience of local residents.
- The effect the creation of the route would have on the rights of persons interested in the land.
Diverting a path
Before diverting a path, the following should be considered (under section 119 of the Highways Act 1980):
- The diversion of the route is in the interests of the public and land owner, lessee or occupier of the land crossed by the route.
- The order does not alter any point of termination of the path, other than to another point on the same path or another highway connected with it, which is equally convenient to the public.
- The route will not be substantially less convenient to the public as a consequence of the diversion.
Removing a path
Before extinguishing a path, the following should be considered (under section 118 of the Highways Act 1980).
- The path is not needed for public use.
- To what extent the route is likely to be used by the public and the effect the extinguishments will have on the land served by the path.
Register of declarations
All surveying authorities are required to keep a register of declarations made under section 31- 6 of the Highways Act 1980. These declarations enable any landowner to acknowledge public rights of way across their land and also indicate a lack of intention to dedicate any additional rights of way.
The statutory registers for all of the above modifications, orders and declarations are kept by the council. They're available for public inspection by contacting the public rights of way officer by calling 01895 277528 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The public rights of way officer can also provide more information on the Definitive Map and Statement.