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. Applications must be supported by good historical and/or user evidence. If you wish to add public rights of way but do not have sufficient evidence then you can submit proposals for consideration under the Rights of Way Improvement Plan. The Rights of Way Improvement Plan can be found by following the link to our Public rights of way page under Related services.
Applications to modify the Definitive Map and Statement can be made under s53 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 as a result 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 make an appointment to view the Definitive Map and Statement by contacting us.
What happens next?
Your application will be added to the register and investigated in accordance with the Statement of Priorities. You will be informed when investigation is likely to begin and we 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 the holding of 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.
How long does it take?
From the start of the investigation process to coming to a decision should take in the region of 16 weeks. Making the order, advertising and dealing with any possible objections can significantly lengthen the process, especially where appeals are made against decisions.
How much does it cost?
There is no charge to apply to amend the Definitive Map and Statement.
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 can be found 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 in doubt as to 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 prior to the date of submission may still be successful. Statements must be renewed every ten years to remain in effect. Guidance notes and examples of a statement and statutory declaration can be found under the Information and resources section.