Public Rights of Way
COVID-19 information for users of public rights of way
You are reminded that people live and work in close proximity to many of our public rights of way and many landowners will be especially concerned and vulnerable at this difficult time. You are asked to:
· be sensible, courteous and considerate when using public rights of way at this time
· follow the government guidance on social distancing by keeping at least 2 metres apart. Natural England have asked users to, if possible, try to avoid using footpaths etc. that may take you through a farmstead or other rural business where social distancing may be difficult
· follow the Countryside Code: leave gates as you find them and keep dogs under close control at all times - Defra advise that you should keep your dog on a lead near livestock and away from other people/dogs, Defra have posted a video containing advice for users
· when using gates and stiles be mindful that other people pass through these and that landowners may need to use them multiple times a day. Wash your hands and or sanitise as soon as possible after touching shared surfaces
· keep to the definitive line of the path or use an alternative route if provided by the landowner
Public rights of way provide an opportunity for people to take exercise in their local area and get some fresh air in these difficult times. However, people should not be making special journeys to access them, and should not congregate on public rights of way. If there is a particular problem with large numbers of people congregating on a right of way then the Police should be informed, as they have powers to disperse such groups.
We manage the public rights of way network in line with national government legislation and guidance and at present there is no advice or requirement for the public rights of way network to be closed or restricted in any way. The Council will respond to any further actions necessary in the event of any changes to legislation or Government guidance but at this time there are no provisions to close public rights of way.
COVID-19 information for landowners and property owners
We manage the public rights of way network in line with national government legislation and guidance and at present there is no advice or
requirement for the public rights of way network to be closed or restricted in any way. The government reports that the risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.
People living and working in close proximity to public rights of way are reminded that the public have a legal right to use a public right of way, and that they should not block or obstruct paths. Where residents living near public rights of way have concerns then they should exercise suitable precautions to ensure social distancing from people on the path. They may want to regularly clean any gate latches or other surfaces on any paths across their property, or landowners may wish to consider tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that users of the path do not need to touch the gate.
Landowners may, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using routes, consider:
· informing the public using the public right of way of their responsibilities, by displaying an appropriate notice. This should not discourage use but alert users to their proximity to homes and working environments and to use appropriate and reasonable caution in terms of social distancing and hygiene practices. Download a poster which can be displayed for public rights of way where there is no alternative route: PROW COVID-19 notice no alternative route (PDF, 102KB)
· if suitable, installing a permissive path through which you can invite users to use an alternative route. However, the definitive alignment of the public right of way must remain open and available at all times, and any permissive path is arranged under your own liabilities and insurance cover and must have agreement from all landowners. You would be advised to waymark any permissive path as such and the public rights of way team can provide further advice on this. Download a poster which can be displayed for public rights of way where there is a safe alternative route: PROW COVID-19 notice alternative route (PDF, 114KB)
· temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by considering using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.
Public rights of way provide an opportunity for people to take exercise in their local area and get some fresh air in these difficult times. However, people should not be making special journeys to access them, and should not congregate on public rights of way. If there is a particular problem with large numbers of people congregating on a right of way then the Police should be informed who have powers to disperse such groups.
The Council will respond to any further actions necessary in the event of any changes to legislation or Government guidance but at this time there are no provisions to close public rights of way.
Hartlepool Borough Council is responsible for 60 miles (96km) of public rights of way. Some of these may be surfaced and many are tracks and paths across the countryside.
The network includes:
Footpaths: only for use on foot
Bridleways: only for use by horseback, bicycle and on foot
Byways: for use by motor vehicles, horseback, bicycle and on foot
Copies of the Definitive Map and Statement are held at the Central Library, which can be viewed during library opening hours. You can also view the legal copy at the Civic Centre. Please contact the Countryside Access Team below, to make an appointment.
Many enjoyable routes around the Borough are included in the new Self-Guided Walking leaflets. You can also get paper copies at the Civic Centre Reception, Tourist Information Centre, Libraries, Summerhill Visitors Centre and the Historic Quay.
For general information about public rights of way visit the GOV.UK website.
Changes to the Public Rights of Way
Public Rights of Way can be created, diverted or extinguished through a legal process. These changes are updated onto the Definitive Map and Statement through a Legal Event Order so that the recent diversions and creations become visible, as the legal record changes. Extinguishments are taken off the Definitive Map and Statement using the same process.
You can apply for changes to be made to the Definitive Map through a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO). These are used to add unrecorded rights of way to the Definitive Map or add/change additional rights to a path (e.g. to change it from a footpath to a bridleway).
For DMMO application form please contact our team below
The Rights of Way Improvement Plan
The Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2007 (ROWIP) and associated maps has been produced and approved in accordance with the Countryside and Rights of Way 2000 and takes account of guidance issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The ROWIP will be reviewed in 2019 and a consultation process will take place across the Borough. Your views will be important and welcome.
Declarations under Section 31 (6) of the Highways Act 1980
Section 31A of the Highways Act 1980 requires authorities to set up a register of declarations lodged, maps and statements deposited under section 31(6) of the 1980 Act as outlined in DEFRA's Guidance for the register of Highways Act Declarations.
These declarations and statements enable any landowner to formally acknowledge any public rights of way across their land and by doing so also indicate their lack of intention to dedicate any additional rights of access.
To view the Statutory Notices’ Summary Sheets for current and recent Declarations go to Rights of Way Statutory Notices and Restrictions
The process for depositing a statement and map was revised on 1st October 2013 following the coming in to force of Statutory Instrument 2013 No 1774.
The major changes made were:
- There is a new application form. Applications to add deposits, maps and statements will not be accepted unless they comply with the requirements of the prescribed form.
- Deposits made after 1st October 2013 are valid for 20 years (previously 10 years)
- The Council will charge a fee for the receipt of any new deposit.
- To discuss the fees or any other matter relating to a s.31(6) deposit; please contact us using the phone or email as shown below.