Public rights of way and the definitive map and statement
What is a public right of way?
A right of passage that the public have on either foot as a footpath or by cycle or horse, as a bridleway or by restricted byway, which includes a right of way on foot, horse, cycle or by non-mechanically propelled vehicles. This is the opposite to a private right of way, which is only a right of passage that is limited to a specific property or individual.
How is a public right of way recorded?
A public right of way is legally recorded onto a definitive map of the surveying authority's area as either a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway. A description of the route of that public right of way is recorded onto the definitive statement that accompanies the definitive map.
What is a definitive map and statement?
The definitive map and statement incorporate all public rights of way that have been recorded in the area, along with a description of those rights of way shown on the definitive map. The definitive map and statement is conclusive evidence at the relevant date it is prepared, of all the public rights of way legally recorded in the Surveying Authority's Area.
How is a public right of way recorded onto the definitive map and statement?
A public right of way is recorded onto the definitive map and statement by either a definitive map modification order, which records a legal or evidential event (explained below) and therefore instantly amends the definitive map and statement. A public path order used to either create, divert or extinguish a public right of way, legally records a public right of way but does not amend the definitive map and statement. At present, in order for a public path order to be recorded onto the definitive map and statement, it needs to be incorporated into a legal event modification order, although there is provision for a 'combined order,' which would amend the definitive map and statement in the same way as a definitive map modification order.
How do I know whether an application for a definitive map modification order has been made?
You can find out whether an application for a definitive map modification order has been made to add a public right of way onto the definitive map by accessing the register below. The register will tell you whether an application has been made and the status and current position of that application, along with the application and plan of the public right of way that is being claimed. You can also view the definitive map for free at the information desk on the ground floor of the Civic Centre, you can also view a paper copy of the definitive map modification order register there too.
Event categories fall into two main categories:
- Legal events (orders already confirmed).
- Evidential events (user and documentary evidence).
Legal events (orders already confirmed)
Section 53 (3) (a)
- A highway shown or required to be shown on the map and statement has been authorised to be stopped up, diverted, widened or extended; or
- A highway shown or required to be shown on the map and statement as a highway of a particular description has ceased to be a highway of that description; or
- A new right of way has been created over land in the area to which the map relates, being a right of way such that the land over which the right subsists is a public path.
Evidential events (user and documentary evidence)
User evidence under Section 53 (3) (b):
- Expiration of a period of use that raises a presumption the way has been dedicated as a public path.
- Section 53 (3) (c) (i) - The discovery of evidence by the authority of an unrecorded right of way.
- Section 53 (3) (c) (ii) - The discovery of evidence that a right of way should be recorded with a different status.
- Section 53 (3) (c) (iii) - The discovery of evidence that a right of way should be deleted, or other particulars in the map and statement require modification.
As an example, if a diversion order is made, confirmed and comes into operation, the coming into operation of the order is an event under Section 53 (3) (a). Whilst the confirmed Diversion Order has already altered the legal line of the path, it hasn't altered the information shown on the map and statement until a distinct, subsequent DMMO is made and confirmed.
Register of DMMO applications
We are required to keep a register of all valid applications to modify the definitive map of public rights of way in Gateshead since 2005. The register below contains details of the applications for definitive map modification orders, which are orders that are used to add, delete, upgrade or downgrade public rights of way. For example, an applicant has evidence that a right of way recorded as a footpath on the definitive map has been used as bridleway for a long period of time, may wish to submit an application to upgrade that footpath to a bridleway on the definitive map. Alternatively an applicant may have evidence that a public right of way exists and has done so for a long period of time and should be shown on the definitive map. An application can be made in those circumstances, but for the modification to be made to the definitive map of public rights of way, then the application, evidence and plan submitted will need to satisfy the appropriate legal tests and requirements. Please see the Definitive Map Modification Order application pack.
Public Rights of Way Officer
0191 433 3094