We can give you information and advice about public rights of way, including footpaths and bridleways, their maintenance and access to the countryside. Contact Transport Policy.
Phone: 0191 277 8955
What is a Public Right of Way?
A public right of way is a route along which anyone has the right to pass without hindrance or obstruction. In law, public rights of way are highways which are subject to the same legal protection as any other public highway.
The Definitive Map and Statement (map and statement) are legal documents the Council as surveying authority holds, which provide conclusive evidence at the date prepared of public rights of way.
Register of Definitive Map Modification Orders
In England and Wales, surveying authorities are under a duty (Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) to modify the map and statement using Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs ) in consequence of events.
Events fall into two main categories:
Legal events (Orders already confirmed)
Section 53 (3) (a)
A highway shown or required to be shown on the map and statement has been authorised to be stopped up, diverted, widened or extended; or
A highway shown or required to be shown on the map and statement as a highway of a particular description has ceased to be a highway of that description; or
A new right of way has been created over land in the area to which the map relates, being a right of way such that the land over which the right subsists is a public path.
- Expiration of a period of use that raises a presumption the way has been dedicated as a public path.
- Section 53 (3) (c) (i) - The discovery of evidence by the authority of an unrecorded right of way.
- Section 53 (3) (c) (ii) - The discovery of evidence that a right of way should be recorded with a different status.
- Section 53 (3) (c) (iii) - The discovery of evidence that a right of way should be deleted, or other particulars in the map and statement require modification.
As an example, if a Diversion Order is made, confirmed and comes into operation, the coming into operation of the Order is an event under Section 53 (3) (a). Whilst the confirmed Diversion Order has already altered the legal line of the path, it hasn't altered the information shown on the map and statement until a distinct, subsequent DMMO is made and confirmed.
Register of DMMO Applications
All surveying authorities in England and Wales are now required to set up a register of DMMO applications under Section 53B (i) Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The register aims to increase knowledge among landowner's, rights of way users and the general public about applications that could result or have resulted in changes to the map and / or statement. View the Register of DMMO Applications.
Deposits under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980
Where a right of way has been actually enjoyed by the public as a right and without interruption for a full period of 20 years, then the way is deemed to have been dedicated as a highway unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary.
One way that a landowner can negative an apparent intention to dedicate is to follow the procedure in section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. This allows a landowner to deposit with the highway authority a Map and Statement showing the ways (if any) running over his land which he admits are dedicated as highways. If the landowner, within 10 years, then deposits a Statutory Declaration confirming that no additional ways have been dedicated since the deposit of the Map and Statement then this is sufficient (in the absence of any proof to the contrary) to establish that no additional ways have been dedicated.
The procedure will, however, have no effect on the existence of public rights of way already shown on the Definitive Map or in respect of any rights which have already been established before the Map and Statement were deposited (for example claims based on historical evidence or through 20 years' use prior to the first section 31(6) deposit).
Once lodged with the highway authority the Map, Statement and Statutory Declaration will be available for public inspection.
Register of Maps, Statements & Declarations made under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980
Each local authority is required to set up and maintain a register containing information on Maps and Statements deposited, and Declarations lodged, by landowners in relation to public rights of way on their land. The hard copies are kept at the Civic Centre and can be viewed during office hours. The electronic version is now available. View the Register of Applications.
Tyne and Wear Local Access Forum is a statutory body created under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. It is their responsibility to examine how the local authorities manage rights of way in their areas, and put forward ideas about how things can be improved for people who want to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep. They also seek to influence national government proposals where relevant.
The authorities involved are:
- Newcastle City Council
- Gateshead Council
- North Tyneside Council
- South Tyneside Council
- Sunderland City Council
Would you like to be involved in the development of access to the outdoors in this area?
Are you interested in being a voluntary member of the Tyne and Wear Joint Local Access Forum (the JLAF), which gives independent advice to the five council's on access, including on public rights of way and access land both in the countryside and urban areas?
The JLAF is a statutory body established by the five councils (Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland), to provide advice on managing and improving public access to land in the area for the purposes of open-air recreation and enjoyment.
We are seeking applications for membership of the JLAF, from people of all ages who are enthusiastic about the rights of way network and access to the outdoors. This is an opportunity to contribute views and positive ideas on the potential network of paths in the area and on how to make it more accessible and enjoyable for all.
You might be interested in nature conservation, farming and land management, heritage, tourism, local business, recreation and sport, access for disabled users, health, education, transport or you might be interested in how to attract new users to the network of paths in this area.
In appointing new members, the councils will seek to ensure that a balance of all relevant interests exists in the whole membership of the JLAF. The JLAF should be representative of the users of rights of ways and access, the owners and occupiers of land, and any other relevant interests.
If you would like an application form you can join online or please contact Yvonne Forster at:
Newcastle City Council, 10th Floor, Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear. NE1 8QH
Telephone: 0191 211 6024
The deadline for application submissions is Friday 22 November 2013.
Rights of Way Improvement Plan
From 21 November 2002 every highway authority in England and Wales had to prepare and publish a rights of way improvement plan (ROWIP) for its area within 5 years. This plan must then be reviewed every 10 years.
The plan assesses:
- the extent that local rights of way meet the present and future needs of the public
- the opportunities provided by local rights of way (in particular footpaths, cycle tracks, bridleways and restricted byways) for exercise and other forms of open-air recreation
- the accessibility of local rights of way to blind or partially sighted people and others with mobility problems
- any matters that the Secretary of State may direct.
It contains a statement of action that the authority proposes to take for the management of local rights of way, and for securing an improved network.
The government announced that from 2005 rights of way improvement planning should be incorporated into the local transport planning process. The government aims to ensure that the contribution of rights of way to transport, recreation and health will be recognised and supported by all authorities by making ROWIPs a distinctive strand within the Local Transport Plan.
The ROWIP has now been incorporated into the Local Transport Plan for Tyne and Wear (LTP3).