Last edited 29 Nov 2016

Right of way

A right of way is a form of easement, which allows the entitled person pedestrian or vehicular access across the land of another person. This right can be in the form of a deed or may arise by implication or by long use. A right of way may exist only for limited purposes.

Public rights of way are a general right to access across land. A public right of way can be established by:

  • Express dedication, where a landowner has given the public the right.
  • Presumed dedication, where a right of way has been in use for longer than can be remembered.
  • Deemed dedication, where a right of way has been used for 20 years or more.

Landowners and occupiers must ensure that rights of way are not obstructed and that the route is identifiable. This can affect proposed developments.

The planning inspectorate deals with applications to create, divert or extinguish rights of way.

NB in 2013, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consulted on proposals to simplify rights of way regulations by changing the processes for recording, diverting and extinguishing public rights of way (ref DEFRA).

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