Landowner deposits under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980

How we deal with landowner deposits under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and the procedure for making a deposit.

Under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, landowners can deposit statements and declarations with the county council acknowledging public rights of way across their land and stating that, at that time, they have no intention to dedicate any further public rights of way. Landowners can do this at any time.

The requirements for establishing that a claimed route should be added to the Definitive Map and Statement are that it has been used freely by the public without the need for permission for an uninterrupted period of at least 20 years. A valid deposit under section 31(6) stops time running forward for the acquisition of public rights by usage, and constitutes an effective challenge for any future claims, unless it can be shown that the public had already been using the route for at least 20 years before the date of the statement or declaration, or the claim is based on documentary evidence.

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 (effective from 1 October 2013) introduced a new set of prescribed application forms and extended the period for which a deposit is valid to 20 years for statements and declarations deposited after that date. Previously it was 10 years. The County Council was also required to post a notice of the deposit on its website and on the relevant land. However the requirement for a notice to be posted on the land was later removed for deposits received after 1 December 2016.

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the county council is required to make landowner deposits available for public inspection.

Hard copy deposit documents for land in Suffolk can be viewed in either of the following ways:

  • Contacting the Rights of Way and Access team for an appointment at Phoenix House in Ipswich by email at definitivemaps@suffolk.gov.uk or on 01473 264774
  • At the Suffolk Archives, Gatacre Road, Ipswich, IP1 2LQ

The county council is also required to provide a register of deposits where scanned deposit documents can be viewed. These documents may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

The web register now includes deposits made under the Commons Act 2006 section 15A(1). These were introduced in 2013 and enable a landowner to protect land against potential claims for it to be register as a village green. Entries on the web register for Highways Act 1980 section 31(6) deposits have a blue header, entries for Commons Act 2006 section 15A(1) (village green) deposits have a green header. You can search for both types of deposit or you can use the drop-down box 'Deposit type' to select either Highways or Village green deposits.

Please note that we are in the process of adding village green deposits to the register. Until further notice check commons and village greens for the full listing.

Procedure for making a deposit

The procedure for making a deposit under section 31(6) has two stages: the statement and the declaration. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs amended its guidance on 9 January 2014 to advise that in order for a deposit to be effective, the declaration must be deposited after the statement and accompanying map. It is not valid to deposit both at the same time. In order for the deposit to remain continuously valid, the declaration must be deposited within 20 years of the statement. Subsequent declarations must then be made at least every 20 years.

Completed deposits should be clearly marked for the attention of the Rights of Way and Access Team and posted to the following address:

Rights of Way and Access Team
Suffolk County Council
Phoenix House
3 Goddard Road
Ipswich
IP1 5NP

The government provides guidance for completing the statutory CA16 application form required to make a deposit.

Stage 1: Statement

At this stage a landowner needs to deposit all of the following with the County Council:

  • A map of the relevant land on a scale of no less than 6 inches to the mile (1:10,000cm) with all public rights of way shown in the colours set out in the CA16 application form. You can find downloadable working copies of the Definitive Map split into parishes on our website
  • The completed CA16 application form – parts A, B and F (E only if required)
  • The appropriate fee as set out below

When we receive the statement, 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 and the hard copy register.

Stage 2: Declaration

At this stage a landowner needs to deposit a declaration confirming the original intention of the deposited statement comprised of all of the following:

  • A map of the relevant land on  a scale of  no less than 6 inches to the mile (1:10,000cm) with all public rights of way shown in the colours set out in the CA16 application form. Or you can refer to the map previously deposited with the statement
  • The completed CA16 application form – parts A, C and F (E only if required)
  • The appropriate fee as set out below

When we receive the declaration, 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 that the declaration will be due for renewal and details of the deposit will be added to the Statement and Declaration Register and the hard copy register.

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. The County Council will not remind landowners when declarations need to be renewed.

Fees

Under the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 the County Council is allowed to charge a fee to recover the costs of processing a deposit. Please note that deposits will not be processed without payment of the appropriate fee. Payment by BACS is preferred if possible please.

List of fees and costs
Fee descriptionCost
Processing a statement and map (standard fee) £200
Processing a declaration within 1 year of depositing a statement and map with no changes to the original deposit £75
Processing a declaration to confirm and renew a statement and map (standard fee) £200

Please note that the County Council reserves the right to increase the stated fees for extensive land holdings or deposits consisting of multiple plans.

Further information 

For further information about deposits under s31(6) and payment of fees, please contact the Rights of Way and Access team:

For advice and information about the fee for processing an application under the Commons Act 2006 (part D of the CA16 form) please contact the Commons Registration Officer.

Alternatively, you can contact your legal adviser.