Keep on track with public rights of way

Posted by ChantelleStenner on September 30, 2020

Keep on track with public rights of way

September 30, 2020 at 9:45 AM

With more people holidaying at home during the Coronavirus crisis and enjoying the countryside footpath network, farmers and landowners are being advised how to protect themselves against the creation of unwanted public rights of way.

 “The use of a specific route by members of the public for a period of time - usually 20 years plus - can lead to an application for a permanent right of way,” said Kathryn Williams of Davis Meade Property Consultants.

“This is of particular concern for landowners adjoining housing estates or with certain landscape features such as rivers, lakes and woods or those with tracks accessing items such as solar panels, masts or wind farms

“To prevent this, under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 landowners can deposit a statement and a declaration with their Local Authority acknowledging public rights of way across their land and stating that, at that time, they have no intention to dedicate any further public rights of way,” she advised.

The requirements for establishing that a claimed route should be added to the definitive map as a public right of way are that it has been used freely by the public, without permission and for an uninterrupted period of at least 20 years.

“A valid deposit under section 31(6) stops time running forward for the acquisition of public rights by usage, and constitutes an effective challenge for any future claims, unless it can be shown that the route  was  used for at least 20 years before the date of the statement or declaration, or the claim is based on documentary evidence,” said Kathryn.

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 (effective from 1 October 2013) introduced a new set of prescribed application forms and extended the period for which a deposit is valid to 20 years for statements and declarations deposited after that date. Previously it was 10 years. 

The 2013 Act also enabled deposits made under the Commons Act 2006 section 15A(1) to be made, enabling landowners in England to protect land from being  registered as a village green.

Kathryn said the procedure for making a deposit under section 31(6) has two stages: firstly the deposit statement and secondly the statutory declaration which must be deposited after the statement and accompanying map. It is not valid to deposit both at the same time. 

“Davis Meade can assist clients with obtaining and marking up the relevant plans, compiling the deposit statement and the statutory declaration and also keeping ongoing records of signage evidence and setting reminders for further future renewal submissions to the Local Authority for clients or their successors in title,” she added. 

Contact Kathryn Williams at Davis Meade Property Consultants on 07971 583638 or email kathrynwilliams@dmpcuk.com or see Davis Meade’s Guidance Note on Public Rights of Way at www.dmpropertyconsultants.comKathryn 003_opt.jpg

 

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