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Recording, Changing and Closing Public Rights of Way

Public Rights of Way

The Definitive Map and Statement (DMS) can be changed by the addition of a previously unrecorded right of way, by the upgrading, downgrading or removal of a right of way or by the diversion of an existing way.  It is also possible to create new rights of way and also to extinguish existing ones.

Changes to the DMS are made by legal events following statutory procedures set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Highways Act 1980 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which regulate the making of such Orders.

Orders to modify the DMS to add unrecorded rights of way or upgrade, downgrade the status or remove an existing right of way, based on evidence that there is an omission or error on the map, are called Definitive Map Modification Orders.  Orders to modify the DMS by diverting or extinguishing an existing right of way, or creating a new right of way, are called Public Path Orders.

Modification Orders

The legislation covering Definitive Map Modification Orders is Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

For information, see Modification Orders.

Public Path Orders

The County Council has the power to authorise the making of Public Path Orders to divert, create or extinguish ('stop up') public rights of way.  Anyone can make an application.

Diversion Orders

Before the County Council will consider an application to divert a public right of way it must be satisfied that:

    The proposed diversion is in the interests of either the public, or the landowner or occupier of the land.
    The diverted route must not be substantially less convenient to use as the existing route.
    A diversion will not result in a negative effect on public enjoyment.

These preconditions are set out in detail in Section 119 of the Highways Act 1980.

For further information please see our guidance notes for Public Path Diversion Orders.

Extinguishment Orders

Before the County Council will consider an application to extinguish a public right of way it must be satisfied that the path is not needed for public use.

The preconditions are set out in detail in Section 118 of the Highways Act 1980.

For further information please see our guidance notes for Public Path Extinguishment Orders.

Creation Orders

Before the County Council will consider an application to create a public right of way it must appear to the authority that there is a need for the new path.  The County Council must also be satisfied that the new path would add to the convenience or enjoyment for a substantial number of users or local residents.

The preconditions are set out in detail in Section 26 of the Highways Act 1980.

For further information please see our guidance notes for creating new rights of way.

Creating a New Public Right of Way

Landowners, including developers, Parish or District Councils, can also create a new right of way by entering into a Creation Agreement with the County Council.  Owners can use a Creation Agreement to create a new right of way across their land or to access their development.

Before entering into an agreement with a landowner, the County Council will first require proof of actual land ownership and will also need to consider how the proposed route will add to the convenience or enjoyment of the public.

Creation Agreements are different from Creation Orders in that no public consultation is required to create a new route by agreement, whereas a Creation Order follows the same consultation procedures as a Diversion or Extinguishment Order.  For further information please see the link to the guidance notes below.

The relevant legislation covering Creation Agreements is Section 25 of the Highways Act 1980.

For further information please see our guidance notes for creating new rights of way.

The Deregulation Act 2015

The Deregulation Act 2015 received royal assent on 26th March 2015. Part of the act concerns public rights of way and will take effect once the regulations and guidance have been completed. For further information, please see The Deregulation Act 2015.

Temporary Closures

Public rights of way should be open and available for public use at all times.  However, it may be necessary in the interests of public safety to formally close a right of way for a limited period of time to allow works that disturb the surface of a path, or works next to a right of way, to be carried out.

Public rights of way must not be closed or the public use in anyway restricted without the County Council's prior consent.  If it is considered necessary for a right of way to be temporarily closed, the County Council must first be consulted so that the correct statutory procedure can be followed.

In the event of animal or plant diseases affecting an area we will act on advice from DEFRA regarding the closure of public rights of way.

The relevant legislation covering Temporary closures is Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (as amended).

If you think you may need a closure, please either email countryside@worcestershire.gov.uk or ring 01905 845617 to discuss.  Please contact us at least six weeks before you want the closure to begin.  You should note that there is a charge for this process.

Standard Operating Procedure for Emergency and Temporary Closures on Public Rights of Way

Planning and Rights of Way

Planning permission does not alter any rights of way crossing the land. If a path needs to be diverted or extinguished for development to take place, a legal order must be made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 before development is completed.  This will usually be processed by the District Council Planning Department.

The Countryside Access team must be consulted on any proposed development that affects a right of way.

Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)

These Orders may be used to prohibit certain kinds of traffic from rights of way which is considered unsuitable or inappropriate, e.g. prohibiting motorised vehicular use from a Byway Open to All Traffic to prevent damage to the surface of the route.

The relevant legislation governing Traffic Regulations Orders is Section 1 and 2 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.