Every public right of way follows a specific route which is defined by the definitive map. The route of a path can only be altered by a legal order made by or at the request of the Council or occasionally by an Act of Parliament. The reason for making an order could be, for example:
- planning permission for a development has been applied for but the building cannot be erected without obstructing a path. (Please note: a diversion application and order can be made before planning permission is granted, but the order can only come into force if planning permission is subsequently granted).
- a path runs very close to the windows of a house and the householder wants to increase the privacy and security of the property
- a path in need of repair could be replaced by another route with better views and easier gradients.
In each case however, the Council will consider the impact not just on the applicant but also on other people. So the developer and the householder in the first two examples would have to provide a replacement path which was as good as the old one. In the last example, the Council might want to divert the path for the benefit of the public but would also have to take into account the impact on the landowner.
Further information about how we balance up this impact is contained in the Council’s Diversions and extinguishments policy. If you wish to apply for a diversion order for a path on your land, please contact Highways for an application form.
As with a diversion, you need a legal order to close a right of way and in most locations there are only two grounds for closing a path:
- planning permission for a development has been applied for but the building cannot be erected without obstructing a path. (Please note: an extinguishment application and order can be made before planning permission is granted, but the order can only come into force if planning permission is subsequently granted).
- the path is no longer needed for public use and it would be expedient to close it.
In general, criminal behaviour is not a reason for closing a path but is a matter for the police to deal with. The exception is that on school property, it may be possible to stop up a path to protect the staff and pupils from violence and other criminal behaviour.
Again there is more information available in the Diversions and extinguishments policy and with the application form which we will send you if you contact Highways.