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Highways Act 1980, Section 119 – Diversion of a public right of way

An application may be made under the Highways Act 1980, S119 to divert a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway if it can be shown that by doing so it is beneficial to the land owner, lessee or occupier of the land crossed by the right of way and the public.

How to Apply: 

An application can be made by submitting a S119 application form and a scale 1:2500 map. Download the S119 application form to apply.

Copies of maps can be obtained by contacting 01952 384555. A small fee is payable. Details are available upon request.

Please view the information in the sections below to help make the application process quicker.

This information will be needed for all applications:

  • details of the individual/s making the application
  • landowner details (land owned by a business should be completed in the name of the company secretary or a partner)
  • written authority from the applicant confirming that they have instructed the agent making the application on their behalf
  • you will need to provide the reason that you have applied to the Council to make the order on the application form. This has to show how it is in the interest of the owner or occupier of the land, or of the public.

Applicants who do not have sole interest in the land will need details of any other person who has an interest in the land that the new or existing route passes through and written consent from every person who has an interest in the land over which the new or existing route passes.

Existing Footpath/ Bridleway/Restricted Byway

On the application form, section 4A, please provide a description of the existing Definitive Map route that you are applying to divert/stop up using the guidance below:

  • refer to each section by letter (A-B, C-D etc). Add the letters to the application map
  • describe each section of the route (e.g. along field edge, following river bank)
  • provide widths for each section of the route, if you do not know the width of any part of the route put “Unknown"
  • include details of any limitations on the public’s right of way along the route, such as gates and stiles, and of any structures, such as bridges which exist on it
  • please supply details of the rights of any Statutory Undertakers (such as electricity, gas and communication suppliers) along each section of the route.

Alternative New Footpath/ Bridleway/Restricted Byway

On the application form, section 4B, a description of the proposed alternative route using the guidance below is required:

  • refer to each section by letter (W-X, Y-Z etc.) and add the letters to the application map
  • the proposed legal width of any new public right of way should be included on the application form. If there are different widths along the new footpath or bridleway please give details section by section. The usual minimum width is two metres wide for a footpath or three metres wide for a bridleway. If the new right of way follows a route with visibly well-defined edges, such as a farm track or a drive then the new public right of way should extend to the full width, in which case please state “full width”
  • provide details of every location where it is proposed that there will be a limitation to public use, i.e. a stile or gate. In considering the application the Council will consider the needs of people with limited mobility. All gates and stiles cause some level of inconvenience; so please do not include any which are not strictly necessary. The application should provide for the least restrictive gate or stile appropriate to the location as follows:
    • a gap less than the path width (minimum 1.0m wide) – least restrictive
    • a field gate or bridleway gate (minimum 1.5m wide gate)
    • a standard pedestrian gate (minimum 1.0m wide gate)
    • an easy access kissing gate (minimum 1.0m wide manoeuvring space throughout)
    • a narrow pedestrian gate (minimum 600mm wide gate)
    • a narrow kissing gate (minimum 600mm wide manoeuvring space throughout)
    • a stile (minimum standards apply) – most restrictive.

Details of the existing and proposed alternative routes:

  • the application map must accurately show the current definitive route of the right of way to which the application relates using a black continuous line
  • the map should also contain sufficient detail to show the effect of the diversion on any highways or right of way connected to it by accurately detailing these on the map
  • draw the line of new paths to be created onto the application map with a bold dashed line or in a different colour.

If the Council agrees to make a diversion order, we will identify any works that are required to bring the new path or paths into a fit condition for public use.

This will include:

  • the minimum acceptable standard for the new path surface taking account of known site issues and any other factors which may not be apparent at the time of application
  • the physical work required to divert a footpath can involve the removal of obstructions, clearing vegetation and overhanging branches, installing bridges and culverts, carrying out drainage works, surface construction and installation of gates. If you intend to carry out any of the necessary work yourself you will have to agree to deliver it according to any specifications we require and within a stated deadline. The Council can, if required, undertake any works which are required and the costs incurred will be charged back to you.

  • The proposal is, a diversion; which means, moving the line of an existing right of way and providing a new route in which event the old route can be stopped up. This means that it is not possible to divert a right of way onto the route of an already existing right of way as an alternative, nor is it possible to not provide a route. These options would be extinguishments and should be applied for under S118.
  • Where the end of the existing route ends on a highway it can only be diverted to a point which is on the same or connected highway and which is substantially as convenient to the public.
  • If the end of the existing route does not end on a highway it is not possible to divert the end of that route. If you wish to consider such an option it will be necessary for you to extinguish the existing route under S118 and to dedicate or create a new alternative right of way across your land.
  • The new route should not be substantially less convenient to the public and regard should be given to the effect of the diversion on the public enjoyment of the route as a whole both in respect of the land crossed by the existing path and the land crossed by the new path.
  • The applicant should ensure that the existing route is, at the time of the application, open and available to be used by the public. The Council may refuse to consider an application to divert a public right of way if the existing route is blocked until the public’s rights have been restored or unless the applicant can provide a satisfactory reason why this is not possible.

This tables shows the criteria to be considered when determining if the proposed route is a suitable alternative to the existing definitive route.
General condition (including surface, gradient, furniture and boundaries) The condition of the proposed new route should be substantially as convenient as the original route.
Directness The proposed new route should not unreasonably lengthen the path other than where it is in the interests of an overall improvement to the local network. The proposed new route should not introduce "dog legs" into the path or be overly circuitous.
Width The proposed new route should have a minimum width of 2m for a footpath and 3m for a bridleway.
Landscape character The proposed new route should not result in lower quality or diversity of views for the path user.
Features of interest Other than in exceptional circumstances, the proposed new route should not remove paths from significant features of interest, natural or manmade. 
Status There will be no downgrading of the existing rights other than where it is in the interests of an overall improvement to the local network.
Financial The proposed new route should not result in significant additional maintenance costs to the taxpayer.
Safety The proposed new route should not subject users to any potential dangers or hazards. It should not introduce conditions (e.g. darkness, narrowness, poor visibility, and hiding places) likely to encourage antisocial or criminal behaviour against users, nor should it create a perception that this may be the case.
Needs of the mobility impaired user   Wherever possible proposed new routes should include features to improve access for the mobility impaired user, e.g. - gaps and accessible gates rather than stiles & ramps rather than steps.

Last updated: 03/05/2022 09:54

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