Public Path Orders
Diverting, stopping up and creating Public Rights of Way
Public Rights of Way can only be diverted or stopped up by a legal order. They can also be created in a similar way. The most commonly made types of 'public path order' include:
- diversion or extinguishment orders made by Councils under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, in connection with development;
- diversion orders made by the Council under section 119 of the Highways Act 1980, in the interests of landowners, occupiers or the public;
- diversion, extinguishment and creation orders made by the Secretary of State, under sections 14 and 18 of the Highways Act 1990 ('Side Roads Orders'), to enable the construction of bypasses and other major road schemes; and,
- creation agreements made between the Council and a landowner where the landowner wishes to dedicate a new Public Right of Way. These are undertaken by mutual consent and do not need to go through the same process as an order.
In addition, the Cycle Tracks Act 1984 provides powers for the conversion of public footpaths into cycle tracks.
All diversion and extinguishment orders made under the Highways Act 1980 by the Council go through the same basic procedure, as shown in the following diagram. As there are a number of steps in the process, some with set durations, it can take a long time to divert or extinguish a Public Right of Way. Also, there is no certainty that an application will result in a diversion or extinguishment; the Highways Act 1980 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 dictate set of legal tests which must be met when the Council makes and confirms an order and the public has a right to object on certain grounds.
The process for public path orders is outlined below:
- Public Rights of Way Committee decision
- If approved, order is made and advertised
- Objection period
- Unopposed orders confirmed and advertised, opposed orders sent to Secretary of State for determination
Every time a Public Right of Way is created, diverted or extinguished, the Council notifies the Ordnance Survey so that the change can be shown on the next editions of digital and paper maps of the area, although this change may take a number of years to appear on maps in common use.
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. There is a waiting list for dealing with orders - please contact us for details of the current situation. Orders required for development purposes under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 can be processed more quickly
For further information and application forms, please contact the Public Paths Orders Officer in the Public Rights of Way team. Details of the administration fee for Public Path Orders are available in the Public Rights of Way Charging Policy 2017 (PDF, 80KB).
There are lists online of current orders:
You can see a list of cases which have been referred to the Secretary of State and involve a public inquiry. You can also view the agendas and minutes of the Public Rights of Way Committee online.