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Other Public Rights of Way Information & Advice

The Definitive Public Rights of Way Map



The definitive map and statement is the conclusive legal record of public rights of way in the area. The record shows where the public has a right to walk, cycle or ride over land that is more often that not privately owned. This is important to rights of way users and landowners as well as utilities companies or developers because it defines their rights and responsibilities. The Council is the "surveying authority" for the area and is required to keep the information held in the definitive map and statement up to date.

The definitive map and statement for the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland is currently in two parts. One part covers the Borough outside the North York Moors National Park the other covers the area inside the National Park boundary. If you wish to see these documents they can be viewed during normal offices hours at Redcar and Cleveland House, Kirkleatham Street, Redcar, TS10 1YA but it's advisable to make an appointment, especially if you are likely to need further information or advice.

The Rights of Way Map is helpful for general enquiries but in some circumstances a paper extract taken from the actual definitive map and statement is required, usually for legal purposes. Certified extracts can be supplied by the Public Rights of Way Advisor at a cost of £35. Local land and property searches are administered by the Council's Local Land Charges Department.

When viewing the definitive map and statement it's important to remember that they are only conclusive evidence of the particulars actually contained. For example, public rights of way might exist even though they are not recorded and the fact that a path is not shown in the definitive map and statement doesn't prove that it's not a public right of way. Similarly the definitive map and statement does not rule out the existence of other rights, for example evidence might be discovered to show that a footpath should actually be recorded as a bridleway.

Anyone can make an application to the Council to correct (or "modify") the definitive map and statement if they believe it's inaccurate or incorrect in some way. Applicants must of course be able to produce relevant evidence to show that the map and / or statement are wrong and require modification. The Council keeps a register of the outstanding applications and these can be viewed on the following link.

Members of the public often have some awareness that public rights of way can come into being through twenty years unchallenged use. So probably the most common way that applications to modify the definitive map & statement arise is when members of the public have been in the habit of following a particular path or way and then suddenly find they are being stopped. This might be through the locking of a gate, the appearance of signs or notices or the installation of a new fence. The right to use the way is then said to have been "brought into question" and this situation is provided for in law by Section 31(1) and Section 31(2) of the Highways Act 1980 that state:

"Where a way over land, other than a way of such character that use of it by the public could not give rise at common law to any presumption of dedication, has been actually enjoyed by the public as of right and without interruption for a full period of twenty years, the way is to be deemed to have been dedicated as a highway unless there is sufficient evidence that there was no intention during that period to dedicate it".

"The period of twenty years is to be calculated retrospectively from the date when the right of the public to use the way is brought into question, whether by notice or otherwise".

This is much more complex than it might at first appear because no amount of public use alone creates a public right of way. The public right to use a path or way depends on dedication to the public, normally by the owner of the land that it crosses. In the absence of any definite proof of dedication Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980 provides that in certain circumstances dedication may be "deemed" or "presumed" to have taken place.

Applications to modify the definitive map and statement may also be wholly or partly based on documentary evidence. Most documents are open to interpretation and might not provide conclusive evidence in their own right. The Public Rights of Way Advisor may be able to assist, but in submitting evidence of this nature it is likely that you will have already undertaken your own research and have some knowledge and appreciation of the value of the documents you intend to rely on.

Applications to modify the definitive map and statement are subject to strict regulations and anyone considering an application should contact the Council's Public Rights of Way Advisor for further information and advice.

Landowners will sometimes want to prevent public rights of way being established over their land by deemed dedication (as described above) and they can do this without necessarily stopping people from using a particular path or way. There are several ways of doing this but the easiest is to put up signs or notices where they can be seen by members of the public. As an alternative the Highways Act 1980 also allows landowners to deposit documents with the Council, under Section 31(6) of the Act as evidence that they have no intention of dedicating any public rights of way (or any additional public rights of way) over their land. If you would like further information or advice about how signs or notices might be worded, how to deposit the documents described or other ways of allowing the public to use a path or way while avoiding deemed dedication please contact the Council's Public Rights of Way Advisor.

Changes introduced by the Growth and Infrastructure Act on 1st October 2013 have amended the earlier Section 31(6) procedures and made it possible to combine statements and declarations under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 with statements made under Section 15A (1) of the Commons Act 2006. Statements deposited with the Council under Section 15A (1) of the Commons Act 2006 bring to an end any period during which an area of land might have been used by the public for "lawful sports and pastimes". This can help to protect the land from becoming registered as a town or village green. Deposits of statements and plans and statutory declarations made under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 before 1st October 2013 remain valid.

The Council keeps registers of the statements and declarations described above at Redcar and Cleveland House, Kirkleatham Street, Redcar, TS10 1YA. Copies of the registers, with further information and advice on this topic, can be viewed via the following links. Notice of any statement and declaration is given for sixty days after it is made.

Applicants for planning permission should be aware that the effect of a proposed development on public rights of way is a material consideration in the determination of their application and that the granting of planning permission does not give any authority to obstruct, divert, close or otherwise disturb a public right of way (even temporarily) in order for the development to go ahead.

For planning purposes the term rights of way includes those already recorded in the definitive map and statement for the area, current applications to modify the definitive map and statement any modifications that the authority itself may be proposing and any footpath, bridleway or restricted byway not recorded in the definitive map and statement.

The extent to which any proposed development will affect public rights of way will of course depend on its location, nature and size so the following "dos and don'ts" are provided for initial guidance only. Where necessary further information and advice should be sought from the relevant planning officer.

In those cases where the closure or diversion of a public right of way is necessary in order for the development to go ahead the relevant procedures can commence as soon as a planning application is submitted. Changes introduced by the Growth & Infrastructure Act 2013 mean that it is no longer necessary to wait until planning permission has been granted. It is hoped that this measure will speed up the process of dealing with public rights of way affected by development.

DO

  • Identify as soon as possible whether there any public rights of way within or adjacent to the site of the proposed development and seek early advice.
  • Seek to retain the existing course of any rights of way wherever possible.
  • Try to enhance the character of any rights of way by taking them through landscaped areas or open spaces, away from vehicular traffic.

  • Consider the amenity value of rights of way and how they might enhance the development by providing connections to local facilities, public transport and local countryside or green spaces.

  • DON'T
  • Attempt to close, divert, obstruct or otherwise disturb any public right of way (even temporarily) without obtaining proper authority.
  • Rely on any public right of way as a vehicular access to the development site.
  • Confine public rights of way between high walls or fences. Poor design can discourage use and lead to problems of anti-social behaviour.

It sometimes makes good sense to change the existing route of a public right of way because it is in the interests of the public, in the interests of the owner of the land that it crosses, or a combination of both. Examples of public interest would be where changes would provide a route that is more sustainable, more convenient or more enjoyable than the existing route. The landowners interests might include health and safety, bio-security or farming efficiency. Changes might also be necessary because of development (above).

Whatever the reasons for the proposed change applications to close, divert or create new public rights of way can only be made by or with the consent of the landowner/s. For a proposal to proceed it will need to satisfy the relevant legal criteria and be subject to statutory consultations. Changes only come into effect after an appropriate public path order has been "confirmed". The Council's powers to make such orders are discretionary and anyone who is looking to make changes to the route of a public right of way must contact the Council to discuss their proposal. Please note that costs are involved. Current public path orders.

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Last updated:
26/10/2017

Assigned review date:
01/04/2018

Awaiting page content review by the allocated team


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