The legal record of public rights of way is the Definitive Map and Statement which is kept at County Hall. You can apply to modify the Definitive Map and Statement if you believe the public rights of way are incorrectly recorded. You can apply to have rights of way either added (including upgrading, for example, footpath to bridleway) or deleted.
There is no charge to apply to amend the Definitive Map and Statement.
Applications must be supported by good historical or user evidence. If you wish to add public rights of way but do not have enough evidence, you can submit proposals for consideration under the Rights of Way Improvement Plan. You can find the Rights of Way Improvement Plan by following the link to our 'Public rights of way' page under Related services.
You can make applications to modify the Definitive Map and Statement under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. We will investigate applications using key documentary sources as well as any user evidence that has been provided. A decision will be reached based on the evidence and will not always reflect what the application was for. For example, an application to add a footpath may result in an order being made to add a bridleway because of the evidence.
The guide to modifying the Definitive Map in the Information and resources section provides you with pre-application information and the next steps.
To check the existing public rights of way network you can use the following links:
Or you can contact us to make an appointment to view the Definitive Map and Statement.
Your application will be added to the register and investigated in accordance with the Statement of Priorities. We will tell you when investigation is likely to begin and will contact you again when it does.
Processing a Modification Application involves assessing the evidence provided by the applicant as well as evidence from other documentary sources. This results in a report that goes to our Regulation Committee with a recommendation to either make an order or not (refusal of application).
If an order is made it may receive objections. This may result in a Government Inspector being asked to consider the evidence and possibly a public inquiry to reach a decision.
If no objections are received, then the order is confirmed and the public right of way is amended accordingly on the Definitive Map and Statement.
From the start of the investigation process to coming to a decision should take about 16 weeks. Making the order, advertising and dealing with any possible objections can significantly lengthen the process, especially where appeals are made against decisions.
The policy for processing applications to modify the Definitive Map is known as the Statement of Priorities. This sets out how applications are selected for investigation and is in the Information and Resources section.
Applications are prioritised in accordance with the Statement of Priorities. New applications are prioritised when the Rights of Way Improvement Plan is reviewed. This means that it could be a few years' wait before your application is considered for prioritising. If you are not sure whether you should make an application please contact us for advice.
If you are a landowner and are concerned about new rights of way being created, you can submit a deposit (a map together with a statement) and plan under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. From the date of submission, the land is then protected from any further rights being claimed. However, claims based on historical evidence, or evidence of use before the date of submission may still be successful. Statements must be renewed every ten years to remain in effect. You can find guidance notes and examples of a statement and statutory declaration in the Information and resources section.