Permanent changes to a public right of way

There are a number of ways in which changes can be made to public rights of way but there are legal requirements in place to protect the interests of the public in the case of any such changes. The council has powers to process applications for Public Path Diversion Orders under section 119 of the Highways Act 1980 and under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

When using these powers, the council uses its discretion and considers the merits of each application and the benefits obtained from the proposal for path users and the landowner.

Is it possible to divert a public right of way?

Yes, there are several orders which can be made to divert a public right of way, providing the alternative route is not substantially less convenient for the public. However, public rights of way can only be diverted when a legal order is confirmed and certified following a public consultation exercise.

Diversion orders to change the position of public rights of way are normally made under section 119 of the Highways Act 1980.

For more information and guidance on:

  • How to make an application to divert a public right of way
  • The council's policies on applications
  • Factors taken into account when considering the application
  • Procedures for making an order

Guidance notes - Highways Act public path orders

Other types of public path order can be made to change the route of paths for reasons of:

  • Crime prevention
  • Improvement of school security
  • Railway crossing safety
  • Protection of nature over land designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest

Public path orders for building development

Orders can also be made under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. These orders are used where changes are needed to enable development to take place.

For more information and guidance on:

  • How to make an application to the council to divert a public right of way to enable permitted development to be carried out
  • The council's policy on processing these applications under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
  • Factors which the council will take into account when processing an application
  • The procedures for applicants and the council for making an order

Guidance notes - TCPA public path orders

What costs are there in making an application to divert a public path?

Applicants must agree in writing to pay all costs associated with making an order, putting the diverted route in place on the ground and any compensation that may be payable. As a rough guide, the administrative and advertising costs associated with a straightforward order are likely to be in the region of £2,200.

How could a new public footpath be created?

There are two ways in which the council can create a new public footpath for the benefit of the public.

Creation agreements

Where the landowner agrees that a new public right of way may be created over their land:

  • Section 25 of the Highways Act 1980 makes provision for the creation of a new public path by agreement between the landowner and Herefordshire Council
  • The process requires a signed declaration by the landowner(s) stating that they are dedicating a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway
  • Once the agreement is made, the fact has to be advertised through publication of a notice in at least one local newspaper

Public path creation orders

Where a new public right of way is needed by the public:

  • Section 26 of the 1980 Highways Act gives local councils compulsory powers for the creation of footpaths,  bridleways and restricted byways
  • The council must be satisfied that the path or way created would add to the convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public, or to the convenience of persons residing in the area
  • The effects which the creation of the path or way would have on the rights of persons with an interest in the land must be taken into account
  • Under section 28 of the Act compensation may be payable to any relevant parties

Can a footpath be closed permanently?

The council has powers to make a Public Path Extinguishment Order under Section 118 where the path is not needed for public use.

This is the only ground on which a public path can be permanently closed. When using these powers, the council uses its discretion and considers the merits of each application and the effects of the permanent closure on both the users of the network and the landowner.

In practice, Public Path Extinguishment orders are rarely made as the applicant must demonstrate that the path which is subject to the proposed order is no longer needed for public use. It is also the applicant's responsibility to pay all costs associated with making an order.

For further information please contact us:

  • Telephone: 01432 261800
  • Online: Contact form
  • Address: Public Rights of Way Section, Unit 3, Thorn Business Park, Rotherwas Industrial Estate, Hereford HR2 6JT

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