Important: WSCC is following Government advice regarding the closure of Public Rights of Way in response to COVID-19. The network currently remains open and legislation does not exist that would allow WSCC, as Local Highways Authority, to close paths due to COVID-19 at this time. Should this change, we will respond accordingly.
Current advice is that, with appropriate social distancing in place, it is possible to use local Public Rights of Way responsibly. Please make sure you wash you hands thoroughly when returning home from walking on Public Rights of Way as you will have touched gates and stiles that may have been used by others.
In addition to the Public Rights of Way network, landowners can make additional routes available for the public to use across their land.
Landowners can enter into an agreement under section 25 of the Highways Act 1980 to dedicate a new permanent footpath, bridleway or restricted byway across their land. An existing footpath may be upgraded to a bridleway.
A new route, or small linking path, may provide a valuable addition to the network. It may be created by a simple agreement with the County Council at minimal cost to the landowner. The County Council will become liable for the maintenance of the route as a public path.
Alternatively, a landowner may consider making public access available through a permissive path agreement. Permissive paths are not legally recorded Public Rights of Way and are not defined by statute. They may provide new permissive footpaths or bridleway routes, or allow existing footpaths to be upgraded to a bridleway.
A permissive path agreement can provide a very worthwhile addition to the path network for the benefit of path users, whilst not committing the landowner to a permanent public path on his land.
There are 2 types of permissive path:
- Through agreement - A formal agreement with the County Council can be entered into to allow use by the public for an initial specified period. Approval from the Rights of Way Committee or through delegated powers is required to set up such an agreement. The County Council, as Highway Authority, would be liable, subject to agreed terms, for the maintenance of a permissive path where there is a formal agreement in place, and for the term of the agreement.
- Through informal consent - An owner may simply allow the public to use a route on his or her land and this consent may be withdrawn at any time. The County Council would have no obligation in terms of maintenance or liability for such routes.
For more information on making an application, please contact the Public Rights of Way Team.