Closing or diverting a public right of way

Public rights of way (public footpaths, bridleways or restricted byways) are highways protected by law. To divert or close a right of way you must apply for a public path order. 

Temporary or permanent closures/diversions

If you're a contractor or a landowner, you can ask us to temporarily divert or close a public right of way for between one day and six months to allow for site works to be carried out safely, or to hold an event. Extensions may be possible, but you'd need to apply for a further closure order.  

You can also ask us to permanently divert a public right of way, providing that your application meets the relevant legal tests and that there's a suitable diversion route.  

Public rights of way can only be moved or closed for one of the following reasons:

  • it's necessary to allow development (if planning permission has been granted)
  • the diversion benefits the landowner/occupier
  • the diversion benefits the public
  • the path is not used by the public (closure only) - these circumstances are rare and very difficult to achieve

When diverting or closing a public right of way, any alternative or new route/path should be just as convenient for the public as the existing path.

Timescale

Simple diversion orders usually take at least six months from receipt to confirmation, but if objections are received, it can take much longer.

How to apply 

Before you submit any application, talk to us first about your proposals.

Once you've done that, fill in and email the appropriate application form to us at least three weeks in advance of the planned closure:

What happens next

  1. We consult the relevant stakeholders to identify potential problems and reduce the risk of objections to the application. (4 week consultation period – longer if changes are made.)

  2. The application is considered by our Planning Regulatory Board, who determine whether it will be accepted or not. If a diversion application is linked to development work, planning consent must be granted before it can be considered by the Board.

  3. If your application is accepted, we'll publish a public path order. Notice of the order is placed in the local newspaper and on site. Formal consultations are then carried out. (4 weeks.)

  4. If we receive any objections, we'll try to help you reach a solution. If the objections are withdrawn, we'll confirm the order. If no solution can be found, we'll send all the relevant information to the Planning Inspectorate to reach a final decision. A public inquiry may be required.

  5. When an order has successfully passed through the consultation period and any new routes have been constructed, we'll inspect the site. If the new route is suitable for public use, we'll publish a confirmation order (6 weeks.) (Note: if the new routes on the ground don't match those in the order, a further diversion will be required)