Public rights of way and coastal access

There is an extensive public right of way network across the country, but it is not complete – there are many rights of way which may appear lost and which exist only in historic documents.

Furthermore, use by the public in certain circumstances can give rise to new public rights of way being created. Indeed, there are a number of dedicated groups and individuals who are now actively seeking to add these rights of way to the definitive map.

For a landowner or developer, an existing public right of way or an application to add one to the definitive map can pose a number of challenges. It may affect your privacy or it may have financial consequences, devaluing your property or preventing development, for example. We can help you to identify solutions to prevent the acquisition of those rights or otherwise minimise their impact.

Our specialist advisers can assist you on all aspects of public rights of way and help you to protect your critical assets. We will work with you to understand and achieve your objectives and offer practical advice throughout the process – whether at an early stage when you are seeking to prevent rights being acquired, through to negotiating with the applicant and/or the local authority, or ultimately at a public inquiry.

Areas of Specialism

  • Advice on preventing claims to rights of way across land.
  • Applications/objections to DMMOs (Definitive Map Modification Orders) and Village Green applications.
  • Applications/objections to Diversions, Creation and Extinguishment Orders.
  • Advice on Coastal Access and “spreading room”.
  • Advice on obstructions and defending enforcement action.
  • Applications for gates, stiles and barriers.
  • Lodging landowner deposits under the Highways Act 1980 and the Commons Act 2006 in respect of public rights of way and village greens.
  • Permissive rights of way and dedication.
  • Resolving disputes in respect of the true width of a public right of way.

Examples of previous cases

Our team have worked on a number of cases focused on public rights of way and coastal access, so are highly experienced in this area of law. These are just some of the matters we have worked on:

  • Application for diversion of a public right of way through a residential garden.
  • Advising a developer following a DMMO application to add an alleged historic bridleway across a proposed development site.
  • Advice on the prevention of the public acquiring a public right of way across a commercial car park.
  • Representing a landowner at a Public Inquiry in respect of a claim for a footpath across agricultural land.
  • Negotiating with a local authority for the installation of a gate across a public right of way.
  • Advising on the correction of anomalies between the Definitive Map and Statement, and the line and status of the right of way on the ground.
  • Resisting an application for a village green on behalf of a landowner.

If you’d like more information or assistance with a public right of way matter, please contact Derek Walsh.