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Highways and Right of Way

A highway is technically a route between two points or termini over which it is recognized that the public at large has rights to pass and repass, on foot only, on horseback or cycles, with non-mechanically propelled vehicles, or with motor vehicles.

If it is reasonably alleged such a right of way exists, then a county council must make an order. If the landowners or others object, then we represent clients at public inquiries at which an independent inspector will decide, as a matter of fact and law, whether the way exists, and what rights can be exercised over the land concerned.

Many highways can be presumed to exist after being used for twenty years. Alternatively it can be proved that they exist from historic documents, because once a highway is created by dedication, it can never cease to be a highway – unless the land ceases physically to exist.

Maintenance and improvement of highways is also sometimes a moot point; we have been involved in compelling a highway authority to undertake work to make a right of way safe that was temporarily closed.

Many properties have no direct access to a highway, and private rights of way attached to them can be controversial, particularly when development is proposed. Rights can be limited by deed, or by the nature of long use. Also rights cannot be used to gain access to other land. Interpretation of deeds is imperative, and we have forty years experience of advising clients.
 

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