Public Rights of Way
A public right of way is a piece of land over which the public have a right to pass. They can be carriageways, footpaths, bridleways, byways (open to all traffic), restricted byways and cycle routes. View our public rights of way plan.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, section 60, placed a duty on all local Highway Authorities to prepare a Right of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP).
Redbridge Council has produced a RoWIP to identify how to improve public rights of ways for walkers, cyclists, equestrians and people with mobility issues. The RoWIP sets out how we intend to improve our public rights of way, with particular attention given to public footpaths, bridleways and byways.
The plan has given Redbridge the opportunity to reassess the public rights of way network and its relevance to its users. It aims to make more places accessible to more people, and remove some of the barriers preventing people from enjoying the outdoors.
Landowner Statements and Declarations
This guidance is for landowners wishing to make a deposit under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006.
Landowners or their representatives can prevent their land from being recorded as highway or registered as a town or village green on the basis of presumed dedication by depositing a statement under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 (for footpaths and bridleways) or section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 (for town and village greens).
A landowner statement does not affect any legally recorded rights of way as shown on the definitive map: these rights of way will not be diverted or extinguished through this procedure nor mean that anything will change on the ground. They do not mean that development is being planned (though that could be the case independently of these notices) and it doesn’t mean that the owner is planning to stop public access which he or she had previously allowed or turned a blind eye to. It is merely a way of legally protecting landowners against future claims for rights stemming from uncontested public use.
Highways statements and declarations
Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 enables landowners to protect their land from gaining public rights of way through a period of use by the public. Landowners can deposit a statement and map to protect their land at the same time as acknowledging any existing public rights of way across their land or permitting continued informal use of farm tracks or access roads by local people without risk of formal public rights of way being claimed. This is known as a highways statement and will protect the land for a period twenty years from the date of the deposit.
To ensure continued protection of the land, landowners must follow up a highways statement with a highways declaration within a 20-year period to remain effective.
Lodging a highways deposit does not affect any right of way which may have been acquired through public use prior to the date of the deposit. This declaration is sufficient to negate any claims of public rights during that time.
New legislation came into force on 1st October 2013 which made changes to the way in which landowners make deposits under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. The changes include:
- the requirement for landowners to complete an application form instead of a statement and statutory declaration
- the introduction of a fee for processing deposits
- the increase of the deposit renewal period from 10 to 20 years for deposits submitted after 1st October 2013
Anyone can apply under section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 to register land as a town or village green. The application must show that a significant number of the local inhabitants have used and continue to use a piece of privately owned land for lawful sports and pastimes for at least 20 years.
Landowners can deposit a landowner statement and map under section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 to protect their land from registration as a town or village green, whilst still allowing access to it.
Depositing a statement
The Council encourages landowners to deposit the statements to protect their interest and to provide greater certainty for users: as these deposits are public documents the status of the land is clear to all. The deposit ensures:
- that informal use of ways can continue without a public right of way being formally registered
- all new ways will be protected from the outset
- the land is protected from the date of deposit up to a period of 20 years at which time it may be renewed by registering a new deposit. Any deposits made before 2013 only have a lifetime of 10 years
Making a section 31(6) or 15A(1) application
Making a section 31(6) or 15A(1) application
Landowners or their representatives must use form CA16 for either a section 31(6) or 15A(1) application.
Before completing your form, please read the guidance provided by Defra:
Before you send us your completed form CA16 you must make sure that:
- the application is signed by every owner of the land to which the application relates, or by their duly authorised representative
- the application is accompanied by a map, showing the rights of way over the land, at a scale of not less than 1:10,560 (a map at 1:5,000 is acceptable as an example). It should show the boundary of the land to which the application relates (the extent of landownership) in coloured edging
- the application is accompanied by the appropriate fee (see below)
- you have supplied a contact email address and/or phone number
- the documents are accurate and are declared before a Commissioner for Oaths, solicitor, or Justice of the Peace
Note: the statement should be made first and the statutory declaration shortly afterwards.
New declarations should be accompanied by further maps as necessary to reflect changes.
Please send your completed CA16 application form back to us at the following address:
London Borough of Redbridge,
Highways and Public Rights of Way,
255-259 High Road,
Ilford IG1 1NY,
Tel: 020 8554 5000
We will check the application form and map against the Definitive Map and if any amendments need to be made, we will contact the applicant. If no amendments are needed, we will tell the applicant the date from which the deposit is effective, and details of the deposit will be added to the Statement and Declaration Register. Applications are usually processed within 8 weeks. It is the landowner’s (or their successors in title’s) responsibility to ensure that they submit a declaration every 20 years to keep the deposit effective. Redbridge Council will not remind landowners when declarations need to be renewed.
Please note, the statement of truth in the application form places on the applicant the onus of getting facts correct. If the statement or map(s) in question contain a material error, then it could invalidate the application.
Please refer below for fees associated with an application.
The Growth an Infrastructure Act 2013 allows the council to charge a reasonable fee for processing each application to cover the council costs of logging the application, making it available on a website and paper register, and placing notices on site. All fees are VAT exempt.
- For a highways statement or highways declaration deposited under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980: £250
- For a landowner statement under section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006: £250
Register of highways statements and declarations, and landowner statements
Once lodged with the Council, a statement, map and declaration become public documents and available for public inspection. All local authorities are required to keep a public register of maps and statements deposited, and declarations lodged under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. Redbridge Council maintains an electronic version of the register.
Register of current Landowner Deposits
FAQ’s and useful information relating to:
- The Highways Act 1980
- The Commons Act 2006
- The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
How can a public right of way be registered?
Anyone can make an application under Common Law and under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 to claim that a way (or informal path) over any land be formally created as highway on the definitive map on the basis of “presumed dedication” if the way has been in lawful regular use by the public as of right without permission, force, secrecy, or interruption from the landowner for a full period of 20 years.
The landowner might be quite happy with people doing this, but if they don’t take action to protect their interests, a claim could be made that could result in the creation of a public right of way being created and so lose control of this land.
Landowners can protect their land against claims for public rights of way by showing that, at the relevant time, it was not intended these rights to be acquired.
How can a town or village green become registered?
Anyone can apply under section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 to register land as a town or village green. The application must show that a significant number of the local inhabitants have regularly used a piece of privately owned land ‘as of right’ without permission, force, or secrecy for lawful sports and pastimes for a full period of at least 20 years.
I am a landowner, what can I do to prevent an application being successful?
A landowner can show that they have no intention of dedicating a public right of way or a town or village green if they undertake obvious actions to make it clear to the public that they have no ‘right’ to cross or be on their land.
Landowners can also protect themselves from future claims that a way has come into being by presumed dedication by depositing a highway statement under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 or claims for registering as a town or village green by depositing a landowner statement and map under section 15(A) of the Commons Act 2006 showing that, at the relevant time, it was not intended these rights to be acquired.
A landowner can acknowledge whether any ways have already been dedicated across their land as highway (i.e., admit to the existence of those ways whether they were dedicated by you or any previous owner) or allow existing informal use of the land without fear of a village green or common being claimed on the basis of future use from the date of the declaration (always provided that there is no other evidence of an intention to dedicate a public right of way). This relieves the landowner of the need to take action to prevent actual use; such action can be potentially difficult, costly or create unnecessary bad feeling in the local community. If any ways do exist across your land, you must indicate in the highways statement what types of way they are and show on the map where on your land they are located.
Lodging a deposit does not affect any right of way which may have been acquired through public use prior to the date of the deposit.
What obvious actions could a landowner take to prevent access to their land?
Landowners can carry out obvious actions such as:
- the erection of carefully worded notices sited in relevant locations
- fencing or locking of gates once a year
- challenges to users of the way or area, making a note of dates times and names if possible
- the depositing of a statement and map followed by a subsequent declaration under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 for public rights of way, or depositing a landowner statement and map under section 15(A) of the Commons Act 2006 for a town or village green showing that, at the relevant time, it was not intended these rights to be acquired.
Landowners may also allow use only by specifically authorised people to make it clear to the public that they have no ‘right’ to cross or be on his/her land.
Whilst a landowner may be able to produce evidence that they have not dedicated a way by taking steps to prevent members of the public from using it it is often difficult to prove this at a later stage.
What does depositing a statement and map do?
Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 enables a landowner to submit a statement with a map, followed by a declaration, with the council, acknowledging any existing public rights of way across their land at the same time as declaring that they have no intention to dedicate any additional route to the public.
What does a depositing a statement and map not do?
Depositing a statement and map has no effect on the existence of public rights of way already shown on the definitive map or which can be shown through historical documentary evidence.
Depositing a statement triggers a one-year period of grace allowed for greens applications which rely on the qualifying criteria provided by section 15(3) of the 2006 Act, in other words where use of the land as of right has ceased.
However, depositing the documents will immediately fix a point at which any unacknowledged rights are brought into question. The onus will then be on anyone claiming that a right of way exists to demonstrate that it has already been established. Under deemed statutory declaration, the 20-year period would thus be counted back from the date of the declaration.
Can I see application that have been made?
Once a statement and map is lodged with the council, the details are made available in the deposit register. You can view copies of landowner deposit notices, statements, and declarations.
What is common land?
Common land is land, usually in private ownership, that has rights of common over it. The main features of common land are that it is generally open, unfenced and remote – particularly in the upland areas of England and Wales. However, there are some lowland areas of common, particularly in the south-east of England, that are important for recreational uses.
Rights of common can include:
- grazing sheep or cattle (herbage)
- taking peat or turf (turbary)
- taking wood, gorse or furze (estovers)
- taking of fish (piscary)
- eating of acorns or beechmast by pigs (pannage).
The people who are able to exercise the rights listed above are generally known as ‘commoners’.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000 permits public access to open countryside including access to common land. The Countryside Agency have published conclusive maps for all areas showing the land (including commons) to which the public have access and the new open access rights are now in operation in all regions subject to any short- or long-term restrictions that may apply.
What is a town or village green?
Town or village greens share a similar history to common land. However, they are defined separately for the purposes of the Commons Registration Act 1965.
Village greens are usually areas of land within defined settlements or geographical areas which local inhabitants can go onto for the exercise of lawful sports and pastimes as of right for at least 20 years and either a) continue to do so or b) have ceased to do so for not more than said period as may be prescribed. Typically, these might include organised or ad-hoc games, picnics, fetes, and other similar activities. Whilst land forming town or village greens may be privately owned, many greens are owned and maintained by local parish or community councils. Some greens may also have rights of common, for example, grazing of livestock, over them.
The Commons Act 2006:
The Commons Registration Act 1965 has been replaced in Redbridge by the Commons Act 2006.
The Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008 came into force on 1 October 2008, these have been replaced by the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2014