A public path, or public right of way is a route over which the public have a right to pass and re-pass. Public rights of way are part of the wider public highway network. The public rights of way network in Newcastle is made up of three types of path. The public rights on these paths are:

  • Footpath – on foot only.
  • Bridleway – on foot, horse and pedal cycle.
  • Restricted Byway – on foot, horse, pedal cycle and non-mechanically propelled vehicles.

The legal status of a route does not guarantee that it will be accessible to all who can legally use it. The character and location of a path (on a slope or remote) may mean that some people may not be able to access all or any of it. However the Council will consider improvements to the path network where resources and opportunity allow, to increase accessibility.

Definitive Map and Statement

The legal record of public rights of way is known as the Definitive Map and Statement and is maintained by the Council. It is conclusive evidence of the rights of way shown on it but without prejudice to the existence of other unrecorded rights. Not all paths are shown on it however and there may be paths that have been used by the public for many years and so have acquired public rights, but have not been recorded. The Definitive Map is available for inspection by appointment during normal office hours.

Changes to the Network and the Definitive Map and Statement

Rights of way are protected by law. Unless stopped up by legal means, they remain highways even if they are little used or not obvious on the ground. Rights of way can be moved, added to or deleted from the definitive map, or have their status amended but the correct legal procedure must be followed.

Definitive Map Modification Orders

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 allows anyone to apply to the Council to make a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) to change the Definitive Map and Statement if they believe it is incorrect. A DMMO will be made where reasonable evidence shows that a route;

  • has not been recorded but should have been,
  • has been recorded but should not have been,
  • should be recorded as a different status, or
  • should be more precisely defined.

The following documents are available to download for anyone who thinks they may have evidence that the Definitive Map and Statement is in some way incorrect or believe that a route may be a public right of way but has not been recorded.

Information to Consider before Making an Application to Modify the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way (pdf, 92kb)

Guidance Notes on Making an Application to Modify the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way (pdf, 72kb)

Application Form to Modify the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way (pdf, 83kb)

Register of Definitive Map Modification Order applications

The Council maintains a register of DMMO applications. The purpose of this register is to increase public knowledge about applications which could result in changes to the Definitive Map and Statement. The register is available for anyone wishing to see it by appointment during normal office hours and can also be viewed by clicking the link below.
Register of Application Section 53b Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Diversions

Landowners can apply to the Council to divert a public right of way under the Highways Act 1980, if they can show that it is in their interest, for example, moving a footpath out of a busy farmyard or moving a cross-field path to a route around the field edge, and that the new route is not substantially less convenient for users. Public consultation is part of the process and anyone can object to a proposed diversion. Landowners will have to pay the costs of processing and advertising a diversion order. The following document which provides more information for landowners is available to download.
Information, Guidance and Application Form to Divert a Public Right of Way (Highways Act 1980).  (pdf, 116kb)

Public rights of way can also be diverted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, if they will be affected by development, such as building a new housing estate. The following document which provides more information for developers is available to download.
Information, Guidance and Application Form to Divert a Public Right of Way (Town and Country Planning Act 1990). (pdf, 115kb)

Creation Agreements

Landowners can dedicate new rights of way across their land through a creation agreement. Once a route has been added to the definitive map, the responsibility for the upkeep of its surface is usually taken over by the Council. For further information contact the Public Rights of Way Officer.

Section 31(6) deposits - records of rights of way across land

Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 provides a way in which landowners can protect their land from public rights of way coming into existence across it, as a result of public use.  It requires a map and statement to be deposited with the Council, outlining the extent of the land in their ownership and showing the existing public rights of way and highways which cross it.  In order to continue this protection, a statutory declaration must be deposited with the Council by the landowner within 20 years of the deposit of a map and statement. An application form (CA16) for Deposits and Declarations and a set of guidance notes can be viewed/downloaded by clicking the links below.

Application Form for deposits under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 (word, 46kb)

Guidance for the completion of Form CA16  (pdf, 119kb)

A register of deposits is maintained by the Council  and is available for anyone wishing to see it by appointment during normal office hours and can also be viewed by clicking the link below.

Register of Depositions Section31(6) Highways Act 1980.

Obstructions to Public Rights of Way

The Highway Authority has a duty to assert and protect the rights of the public to use and enjoy public rights of way. If a public right of way is found to be obstructed, it should be reported to the Public Rights of Way Officer. The Council will take appropriate measures, including enforcement, to protect the rights of the public to use the rights of way within Newcastle.

Further Information

For further information or if hard copies of any of the above documents are required please contact the Public Rights of Way Officer by;
Email: rightsofway@newcastle.gov.uk
Tel: 0191 277 8955
Post: Newcastle City Council, 9th Floor, Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 1QH.

Documents and Links

Page last updated: 14 October, 2014