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Public rights of way and planning

Find information about the importance of public rights of way within the planning system.

It is essential that public rights of way are considered within the planning system, whether you are a homeowner looking to add an extension to your house, or a company planning to build a large development.

They are used for sustainable transport links, recreation, encouraging healthy lifestyles, supporting the local economy and promoting local tourism. They provide opportunities for residents to access the local countryside, and local towns for shopping, education, employment etc, without adding to the already heavily congested road network.

Where any kind of development which might affect a public right of way is concerned, early contact with the relevant public rights of way officer avoids problems later on when they may be more time consuming and expensive for you to address.

You can find out whether your plans may affect a public right of way by checking the definitive map.

If a public right of way might be affected by your development, please contact us at to discuss your plans.

Please note:

Public rights of way MUST remain open, unobstructed and safe for the public to use at all times, including throughout any construction period. This includes the condition of the surface, which must not be allowed to become churned up and excessively muddy. If it is necessary to temporarily close or divert a public right of way, the appropriate process must be followed as per the information under the 'Landowners and land managers' section of our Rights and responsibilities page.

All planning proposals that affect a public right of way MUST include a plan accurately showing the existing routes so that the effect of the proposed development can be properly assessed. Failure to do so will usually result in us objecting to the application. As set out above, you can find out whether your plans might affect a public right of way by checking the definitive map. You can also contact the Definitive Map Team at to obtain a more detailed plot showing public rights of way and/or the digital data. Please note there is a fee for this service.