Definitive map and statement

Find information about Suffolk's definitive map and statement and how to apply to change them.

The definitive map and statement are the conclusive legal record of the existence, status and location of all recorded public rights of way in Suffolk at the relevant date of the map. The relevant date is the date on which all confirmed legal orders were last consolidated to produce a new up to date sealed definitive map. Under sections 53 and 57(5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Suffolk County Council has a statutory duty to maintain and update the definitive map and statement, and to make them available for inspection by the public.

The definitive map shows public rights of way at a scale of 1:10,000cm (approximately 6 inches to one mile), and the accompanying definitive statement describes the routes shown on the map. The statement also sometimes defines the widths of routes, and describes "limitations" such as stiles or gates, though it does vary in the amount of detail it includes.

The working copy definitive map is divided into parishes to make it easier to view, and is updated to show the changes to public rights of way when a confirmed legal order comes into operation. You can view a plan of the definitive map parishes (PDF, 2.4MB) This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format. Each map has a key showing the line symbols representing categories of public rights of way and the parish boundary, and also shows the route number given to each individual public right of way.

The following parishes do not yet have their own definitive map:

  • Beck Row and Holywell Row - see the Mildenhall map
  • Darmsden - see the Barking map
  • Exning - see the Newmarket map

We are working to consolidate the definitive map for the whole of Suffolk on a digital map base. Parishes that have not yet been digitally consolidated have older background mapping and hand drawn annotations showing the effects of confirmed legal orders.

The definitive map does not show:

  • who owns the land - public rights of way can, and usually do, run over land that is recorded as being privately owned
  • private access rights - the records do not show private rights of way, which may co-exist with public rights of a different status. For example a landowner may have a private right to drive a motor vehicle along a public bridleway
  • permissive rights - we do not maintain a record of permissive rights of way as these are a matter for the landowner
  • open access land - land designated as open access land is recorded on Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps and you can find more information on our page about open access land and the right to roam
  • cycle tracks - these are recorded on the List of Streets

The following legal events can result in amendments to the working copy definitive map and / or statement:

  • a confirmed definitive map modification order (see information about changing the public rights of way network below)
  • a confirmed public path order (see information about changing the public rights of way network below)
  • a public path creation agreement (see information about changing the public rights of way network below)
  • a deed of dedication by Suffolk County Council
  • a confirmed cycle track conversion order
  • a side roads order

The working copy of the definitive map can be viewed on our website.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) advice: Please note that all offices are currently closed to the public until further notice. The working copy of the definitive map can be viewed on our website.

Paper copies of the maps, along with the definitive statement, can also be viewed at the following locations during office hours:

  • Map and statement - Phoenix House, 3 Goddard Road, Ipswich, IP1 5NP
  • Map and statement - West Area Rights of Way Office, Rougham Industrial Estate, Rougham, IP30 9ND
  • Map only - Ipswich Borough Council, Grafton House, 15-17 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2DE

Contact the Definitive Map team with any enquiries about the definitive map and/or statement, or regarding particular routes.

Please be aware that due to volumes of correspondence and the amount of research that may need to be undertaken, responses to straight forward requests may take up to 20 working days, and more complex requests may take up to 8 weeks.

If the parish clerk does not hold a copy for their parish we can provide one to them on request.

Suffolk County Council and your local district or borough council have powers to make changes to the public rights of way network in a variety of ways:

  • Definitive map modification orders
  • Public path orders
  • Creation agreements

Most of the orders are made by district and borough councils and are funded by the applicants. You can find detailed information about changing the definitive map in Natural England's A guide to definitive maps and changes to public rights of way (PDF, 145KB).

If you are a landowner and you want to prevent a claim for a new public right of way on your land, you can find information about submitting a landowner deposit.

Prioritising definitive map order making

We cannot immediately start work on every application that we receive, therefore we have a scheme for prioritising definitive map cases.

Potential cases are scored against a set of criteria and given a priority ranking according to the number of points scored. The criteria are defined on the priority criteria for definitive map case work scoring sheet (PDF, 18KB), which sets out scoring guidelines with examples of high, medium and low scores.

Each criterion is scored out of 10 and will be assessed independently, without consideration as to how it might be affected by any other criteria. Weightings have been applied to reflect the relative importance of certain criteria. The overall effectiveness of the criteria will be kept under review.

New cases will be considered 6 times a year, although in exceptional circumstances an urgent case may be considered more quickly.

Following prioritisation, applicants or interested parties will be contacted and informed of the priority assigned to their case and the anticipated timescale for action.

High priority cases will be progressed as soon as resource is available, with the expectation that this will be within 2 years. Medium priority cases will be progressed within 2 to 5 years, and low priority cases are likely to take over 5 years.

These timescales will be kept under review and may be adjusted according to officer availability. We will give priority to cases where we are directed to determine an application by the Secretary of State.

Definitive map modification orders (DMMO)

There may be unrecorded public rights of way whose legal status can only be determined by evidence. That evidence can come from historical documents and/or from the public making statements that they have been using the route unobstructed without the need for permission for an uninterrupted period of 20 years or more.

Anyone can make a claim for a route that they believe to be a public right of way to be added to the definitive map using a DMMO under section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, however there is no guarantee that a claim will be successful. A DMMO can be used to modify the definitive map and statement, just the definitive map, or just the definitive statement alone.

A landowner can also make a claim to delete a recorded public right of way from the definitive map and statement. In this situation the onus is on the applicant to show that the map is wrong, and to prove that the route was added in error during the compilation of the first definitive map and statement in the 1950s, or during the process to add the route when it was claimed if that happened later.

DMMO register

We maintain a register of applications for a DMMO. The register includes claims that are yet to be decided and claims which have already been investigated and a decision reached as to whether an order should be made or not. Where the decision is to make an order, the register will show whether or not that order is confirmed. Where the County Council has rejected an application the register will show the outcome of any appeal against that decision. The documents on the register may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

The DMMO register aims to:

  • increase the knowledge among landowners, users and the general public about applications which could result in changes to the definitive map
  • avoid duplication where more than one person may be thinking of applying to an authority for a change to the definitive map
  • increase certainty by making sure that people know about ways which landowners do not intend to dedicate as public rights of way

Find out how to make a formal claim for a DMMO.

Public path orders (PPOs)

Public path orders are usually made by district and borough councils (although county councils do have the power to make them). There is no guarantee that an application for a PPO will be successful.

Councils will carry out informal consultations on proposals with the appropriate town/parish councils, representatives of users groups such as The Ramblers, the Open Spaces Society and the British Horse Society, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and local district and county councillors. Both The Ramblers and the Open Spaces Society have a policy of objecting the PPOs unless a clear public benefit can be shown.

Initial proposals are often amended at the consultation stage, and suggestions made by consultees can help achieve a successful outcome. Councils are keen to encourage applicants and consultees to reach agreement on proposals wherever possible. If a council makes PPO to which a public objection is received it can only proceed with the order by referring it to the Planning Inspectorate for determination, and this may involve holding a public enquiry.

Costs for PPOs are usually met by the applicant, and will vary depending on the number of paths affected and the complexity of the application. In most cases the applicant will be required to pay administration and advertising charges, along with the costs of any site works needed, such as signposts or bridges.

The most common types of PPO are:

  • diversion orders
  • extinguishment orders
  • stopping up orders
  • creation orders

Diversion orders

These use a council's powers under section 119 of the Highways Act 1980 to change the route of a public right of way.

Before making a diversion order under section 119, a council needs to:

  • be satisfied that it is in the interests of the owner/occupier of the land and/or of the public for the footpath, bridleway or restricted byway to be diverted
  • be satisfied that the proposed route will not be substantially less convenient for the public to use than the existing route
  • consider the effect of the diversion on public enjoyment of the route as a whole, on other land served by the existing route, and on the land (and any land held with it) where the new route is created
  • have due regard to the needs of agriculture (including the breeding or keeping of horses), forestry and the desirability of conserving nature

Councils also have powers to make diversion orders under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. A council can use this power where it is satisfied that it is necessary for a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway to be diverted in order to enable development to be carried out in accordance with planning permission granted by the council. The disadvantages or loss likely to arise to users of the route as a result of the change has to be considered by the council. It should not be assumed that an order will be made simply because planning permission has been granted.

Extinguishment orders

These use a council's powers under section 118 of the Highways Act 1980 to remove a public right of way from the definitive map.

Before making an extinguishment order, a council needs to:

  • be satisfied that the footpath, bridleway or restricted byway concerned is not needed for public use
  • take into account what the likely use of the footpath, bridleway, or restricted byway would be if an order was not made
  • take into account the effect the change would have on the land the route currently crosses
  • have due regard to the needs of agriculture (including the breeding and keeping of horses), forestry and the desirability of conserving nature
  • disregard any obstruction on the route for the purposes of the order

If an extinguishment order is made at the same time as a creation order, creation agreement, or diversion order, the council can consider the extent to which the creation or diversion would provide an alternative route for the one being extinguished.

In view of The Ramblers' and the Open Spaces Society's policies concerning public benefit, it is difficult for applications for extinguishment orders to succeed unopposed, unless they are accompanied by other applications for diversions or creations that bring public benefit.

Stopping up orders

These also remove a public right of way from the definitive map and use a council's powers under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Before making a stopping up order, the council needs to:

  • be satisfied that it is necessary for the footpath, bridleway or restricted byway to be stopped up in order to enable development to be carried out in accordance with planning permission granted by the council
  • consider the disadvantages or loss likely to arise to users of the route as a result of the change

It should not be assumed that an order will be made simply because planning permission has been granted. In view of The Ramblers' and the Open Spaces Society's policies concerning public benefit, it is difficult for applications for stopping up orders to succeed unopposed, unless they are accompanied by other applications for diversions or creations that bring public benefit.

Creation orders

These use a council's powers under section 26 of the Highways Act 1980 and can be used to create a new footpath, bridleway or restricted byway with or without the landowner's consent.

Before making a creation order, the council needs to:

  • believe that there is a need for a new public right of way
  • be satisfied that it is expedient to create a new footpath, bridleway or restricted byway having regard to the extent to which it would add to the convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public or local residents
  • be satisfied  that it is expedient to create it having regard to the effect that the creation would have on the rights of those with an interest in the land, taking into account the provisions for compensation

Creation agreements

These use a council's powers under section 26 of the Highways Act 1980 an can be used to create a new footpath, bridleway or restricted byway by entering into a legal agreement with the landowner.

A council will require anyone dedicating a new route by a creation agreement to show that they have the power to do so. This usually means supplying proof of ownership of the land in question.

Preparing a new route

If a new route is being created, or an existing route diverted, the route on the ground does not need to be prepared until 6 weeks after the legal work to effect the change has been completed.

Before then, we will prepare a Certificate of Works stating what will be required to bring the new route to the required standard. This will include details such as bridges and surfacing works, and address any request you make for structures along the route. You will be asked how long you want to do the works and will be informed of the appropriate date to start. If you do not complete the work within the agreed time you will be required to meet the costs of a contractor doing so.

You should be aware that a route being diverted does not cease to be a public right of way until we have certified that the new route has been created to an acceptable standard.

Width of a new route

If you are altering an existing route which has a recorded width, then the new route must be at least as wide. A minimum width applies to all other routes:

  • at least 1.5 metres for footpaths
  • at least 3 metres for bridleways and restricted byways

A greater width may be necessary if there is likely to be heavy use of the route and/or it is to run between fences or be otherwise confined. If you are proposing a route along an existing track it is usually appropriate for the public right of way to exist over the whole width of the track.

Contact the appropriate district or borough council for more information about PPOs.

Here you can find copies of all DMMOs and PPOs made in Suffolk except for those made by Ipswich Borough Council. If you are searching for information within the Ipswich Borough boundary, you should contact the Ipswich Land Charges team. These files may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

The orders are listed under the name of the authority that made them. Each order includes a schedule and a map showing the effects that the order will have if it is confirmed. There is also a notice giving details of the objection period and an accompanying explanatory statement. When an order has been confirmed, there will be a copy of the confirmed order and the confirmation notice. A confirmed order will remain on this page until it comes into operation and the working copy definitive map has been updated to show its affects.

Orders made by Suffolk County Council

Orders made by Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council

Orders made by East Suffolk Council

Orders made by West Suffolk Council