A landowner can submit a statement, map and declaration to the highway authority to confirm the public rights of way across their land to which they admit to. This procedure also enables a landowner to declare that there are no other rights of way across their land other then those that they have declared. This procedure, if followed correctly, enables a landowner to protect their land from further public rights of way being claimed on it. The exceptions to that are, those rights of way which have been dedicated (evidence of 20 years public use as of right), prior to the landowner submitting their declaration; and those public rights of way which are already shown on the definitive map.
The procedure is set out in Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and requires a freehold owner of the land in question to make a statement and statutory declaration and submit a plan. In order to protect the land a new statutory declaration must be deposited with the highway authority within ten years from when the previous statutory declaration was deposited, prior to 1st October 2013.
From the 1st October 2013 the Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) and Dedicated Highways (Landowner Statements and Declarations) (England) Regulations 2013 came into force. The new legislation requires any new applications for depositing landowner statements that are made on or after the 1 October 2013 to be:
- on the prescribed form
- the application form must be signed by every freehold owner of the land or their duly authorised representative (proof to be supplied with the application), or if a body corporate the secretary or some other duly authorised officer;
- the application must be accompanied by an Ordnance Survey Map on a scale of not less than 1:10,560 showing the boundary of the land to which the application relates in coloured edging or refer to a map previously deposited in accordance with section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, and
- be accompanied by the application fee of £400 and an additional £90 fee will apply to an application that relates to more than one parcel of land.
Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 has also been amended by the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 to require further statutory declarations to be deposited with the highway authority every twenty years, as oppose to ten years for those declarations deposited prior to 1st October 2013.
The highway authority is required under Section 31A of the Highways Act 1980 to maintain a register of statements, maps and declarations. There is a copy of the register on the information desk on the ground floor of the civic centre, which can be viewed during normal office hours. The electronic version of the register can be viewed here.