Public Path Orders

Public Rights of Ways can be diverted, stopped up and created but this must be done by means of a strict legal procedure.

Can I apply to make changes to the network?

There are two Acts that are used to make such changes to the network:-

  • Highways Act 1980 – to divert, stop up and create public rights of way. These Orders can be made where the proposed changes are considerd to be in the interest either of the public, or of the owner, lessee or occupier of land crossed by the path(s).
  • Town and Country Planning Act 1990 - to divert and stop up footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways affected by development.

Moving or closing a public right of way

  • To move or close a public path a formal order is required.
  • To divert or close a path please contact the Rights of Way Section who can provide advice and guidance.


The new route must:

  • start and finish on the same highway as the existing route, or on highways leading to them;
  • not cause nuisance to the public
  • take into consideration the effect the way might have on the public's satisfaction and any adjoining landowners


An existing route can be stopped up if:

  • an alternative path is created
  • it is not needed for public use

"Once a highway always a highway" is a phrase that literally means that it is almost impossible to remove public rights once they have been established. Due to this it is our policy to retain existing public rights of way and where possible extend the network.


The applicant is normally responsible for the cost of the order. An outline of the likely costs will be provided together with details of the Authority’s procedure to execute either a diversion or a closure.

The Ordnance Survey receives a copy of the Legal Event order so that they can update their Pathfinder and Explorer Maps.

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