Changes to the path network (public rights of way orders)
Public rights of way can only be created, diverted or closed by a legal order.
The most commonly made types of 'public path order' include:
Diversions - the permanent re-routing of a footpath or bridleway in the interests of the public, and landowners/occupiers.
Creation - the addition of a new path to the network, usually with the agreement of the landowner.
Modification - this usually involves the addition of routes to the network because a footpath or bridleway is not shown on the definitive map but evidence suggests that it should be. However modifications can also be made to alter or delete footpaths or bridleways from the definitive map.
Extinguishment - the permanent closing of a footpath or bridleway. This can be applied for by a landowner or initiated by the council. Extinguishments are extremely rare.
Most diversion and extinguishment orders will go through the same basic procedure:
- Informal consultation.
- If the order appears to be contentious or receives objections which are not withdrawn then a report will go to the rights of way sub-committee.
- If approved, formal consultation.
- Order is made and advertised.
- Objection period.
- Unopposed orders confirmed and advertised.
- Opposed orders sent to the Secretary of State for determination.
There are a number of steps to the process (some with set timescales) so it can take a long time to divert or extinguish a public right of way. Also, there is no certainty that an application will succeed.
Landowners can apply to the council for a diversion or extinguishment of a public right of way running across their land. There is an administration fee to cover the full costs of making the order and the applicant must also cover the advertising costs for the order.
Creation agreements, where the landowner wishes to dedicate a new public right of way, are undertaken by mutual consent and do not need to go through the same process as an order.
Rights of way can be temporarily closed to safeguard users when there are works being carried out in the vicinity of the path or following surface damage. These orders can last for up to six months and may be extended further at the discretion of the Welsh Government.
Claimed rights of way
Members of the public may apply to have a route added to the definitive map, this is called a 'claim'.
Once a claim is received the council must determine the claim by assessing the evidence provided. The evidence provided by the claimants usually takes the form of statements completed by members of the public who claim to have used the route. Such user evidence must show that the route has been used continuously for at least 20 years by the public. the 20 year period is calculated by working backwards from the date the route is called into question by the landowner. So if a route is blocked in September 2013 the 20 year period will be from September 1993 to September 2013. It is not necessary to demonstrate that each claimant has used the route for 20 years, but that the general public have used the route.
If we decided that there is sufficient evidence we will publish a modification order to add the route to the definitive map. There is a six week period in which to object to a modification order. If there are no objections at the end of the six week period the order is confirmed and the route added to the definitive map. However it is normal for an order to receive objections and if this is the case the order and objections have to be submitted to the planning inspectorate for consideration.
Committee dates are available on the planning committee page.