A public right of way (often a footpath) which crosses any site subject to a planning application can be a hindrance when considering any development. However, they cannot be ignored and should be planned for accordingly. The grant of planning permission per se does not authorise the stopping up or diversion of any footpath. The right of way may be stopped up or diverted by an Order under Section 257 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 or Section 119 of the Highways Act 1990. Such applications can be made but are often time consuming and the outcome is not guaranteed, so it is recommended that an application includes any Order to be made before the development is carried out. It is important to note that if a right of way is obstructed, for example by a new fence, barb wire or even a very boggy patch of land, before the Order is made the Order cannot proceed and be granted until the obstruction is removed or remedied.
Farmers and land owners need to be aware of their obligations when dealing with footpaths and public rights of way crossing their land. Correct signage and maintenance of the right of way including farm gates, stiles and wicket gates need to be carefully considered and in particular the protection of such items and in particular bridges crossing watercourses. There is help and advice available from the County Highways department and often Parish Councils have a footpath officer that can give further advice. Livestock farmers must take particular care with livestock and horses in fields across by public rights of way. Correct signage and insurance is essential.
If you require further information or assistance regarding public rights of way please contact Douglas Godwin via email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01386 760660