Recording, Changing and Closing Public Rights of Way

Highways Act 1980 Section 31(6)

Protection against public rights of way being established

What is Section 31 (6)?

The most common way for a route to become a public right of way is through uninterrupted use by the public for 20 years. Landowners can prevent this by, for example, erecting notices which clearly indicate that no public right of way exists, or by closing the way for one or more days a year.

Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 enables landowners to deposit with Worcestershire County Council, a map showing the extent of their land, and a statement indicating the public rights of way that they recognise over it (if any). The statement can be renewed by statutory declaration. This helps demonstrate an intention not to dedicate any additional public rights of way.

For more information and guidance about making statements and declarations under Section 31(6), please visit the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website (opens in a new window).

All deposits and/or subsequent declarations lodged before 1 October 2013, will be valid for 10 years from the date of the last deposit/declaration. Those lodged on or after 1 October 2013 will be valid for 20 years from the date of the last deposit/declaration. To remain valid, all deposits/declarations must be renewed by the date of expiry.

For more information about how public rights of way can be established or modified, please visit the Definitive Map Modification Orders page.

Landowners can also protect their land from its registration as a town or village green, following long term recreational use, by submitting an application under the Commons Act 2006. For more information, please visit the Gov.UK website (opens in a new window). See also Commons and Greens.

Benefits

Depositing a map, statement and declaration has several benefits:

  • Where a track or path has been used by the public, but for less than 20 years, it will not usually be possible for a right of way to be claimed. However, a claim at common law might still be possible.
  • From the date of deposit, the landowner is also making a declaration that no additional new public tracks or paths may be created without permission.
  • With the landowner's agreement, it allows the continued informal use of tracks and paths, for example, permissive paths, without those paths becoming public rights of way.

How to deposit a landowner statement and declaration

Landowners or acting agents may deposit a statement and/or declaration with Worcestershire County Council by completing the Application Form CA16 (opens in a new window). Visit the Gov.UK website (opens in a new window) for further guidance.

Deposits under Section 31(6) may be combined with a deposit under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 to protect the land against claims for town and village green rights using the same form. For further information please visit the DEFRA website about Towns and Village Greens (opens in a new window). It is strongly recommended that you read the guidance provided by DEFRA (opens in a new window) before completing your application.

Charges for applications

Worcestershire County Council makes the following charges:

  • £200 for the initial deposit made under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 by completing Parts A and B of Form CA16. This allows up to 10 parcels of land to be included. Please note, applications containing more than 10 parcels of land will incur an additional fee of £100 for every additional 10 parcels

  • £200 for any subsequent declarations made under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 by completing Part C of Form CA16. This allows up to 10 parcels of land to be included. Please note, applications containing more than 10 parcels of land will incur an additional fee of £100 for every additional 10 parcels
  • £350 for the statement under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 by completing Part D of Form CA16. This allows for 1 parcel of land of no more than 1 hectare to be included. For each additional parcel of land, or for land areas in excess of 1 hectare please contact the council for information on fees. This is to cover the cost of placing the statutory notices on site which will be contracted out by the council 

Section 31(6) register

By law from 1 October 2013, we are required to keep a register of deposits and declarations. This includes the name of the person making the deposit, a description and map of the area it covers and the date it was made or renewed.

You can download the Section 31(6) Register or see a copy by appointment at:

Public Rights of Way Team
Worcestershire County Council
Countryside Centre
Worcester Woods Country Park
Wildwood Drive
Worcester, WR5 2LG

Please ring 01905 845617 or email countryside@worcestershire.gov.uk in advance to arrange an appointment.

This is a general guide only and is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.

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