The most common way for a route to become a public right of way is through uninterrupted use by the public for 20 years. The Highways Act 1980 Section 31(6) provides a process for landowners to prevent public rights of way coming into existence over their land following a period of use by the public.
Landowners can provide us a map showing the extent of their land and a statement showing the public rights of way that they recognise. The statement can be renewed by statutory declaration which helps demonstrate an intention not to dedicate any additional public rights of way. This does not remove any public rights that already exist even if they are not recorded.
To make a statement and declaration under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act, 1980 and/or a landowner statement under Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006 there is a need to deposit a map and statement with us.
The Commons Act 2006 Section 15B provides for a similar situation to ensure that no town or village green can come about in a similar way. A single declaration can cover both potential public rights of way and potential town/village greens.
For more information on common land and town and village greens please see village greens.
To arrange for a search of the definitive map, or for further advice and information on the preparation of the statement and statutory declaration, please contact us.