Making An Application
The processing of Public Path Orders is a discretionary, chargeable function carried out by Councils (“Order Making Authorities”). We must therefore be satisfied that a proposal complies with the relevant legislative criteria before inviting an application for the extinguishment or diversion of a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway. Changes to Byways are dealt with under Section 116 of the Highways Act 1980 in the Magistrates Court and are not therefore covered by these notes.
Lincolnshire County Council has a policy of only inviting applications which offer significant public benefit, either by individual or a combination of orders and all proposed changes are assessed in the context of the wider network and the Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan. For example, factors such as improving access for additional classes of user would generally be regarded positively.
In formulating proposals, applicants may wish to consider how they can enhance the existing network by including additional elements such as the creation of new link routes or upgrading existing paths to improve access for less mobile users (e.g. upgrading a footpath to a bridleway). Whilst each order must comply with the relevant legislative criteria in its own right, combination schemes may offer improved connectivity or increased amenity and may be viewed more favourably.
Each order is subject to full public consultation and in the event objections are received, the County Council is not authorised to confirm (complete) it. In such cases, we would seek the withdrawal of objections however where they are sustained, a decision would be taken to either reject (abandon) the order or refer it the Secretary of State (Planning Inspectorate) for a determination. Councils cannot pass on the costs of referring opposed orders therefore the decision on whether to continue with a proposal would be based on the level of public benefit offered. Acceptance of a Public Path Order application, or referral of an opposed order to the Secretary of State, does not guarantee a successful outcome although applicants should note that costs may still be payable in cases where an order has been made and advertised.
Applications relating to paths which are not reinstated in accordance with the Rights of Way Act 1990 (ploughing and cropping) will not be considered unless the existing route is also subject to permanent obstructions that require resolution. In such cases, applicants should ensure that there is a clear, convenient way round the obstruction until such time as the matter can be resolved. Equally, paths that are temporarily obstructed by fencing, barbed wire, garden walls etc will not be considered until such a time as the obstructions are removed. Any obstruction of a highway constitutes an offence over which the County Council may take formal action and which could prejudice the making of an order.
No authority for the closure of a public right of way is conferred unless, and until, an order has been confirmed and notice of its confirmation has been published. This includes applications made pursuant to a planning consent. Where a new route is to be provided, it must be satisfactorily constructed, certified by Lincolnshire County Council, and notice of the change publicised for the order to take effect.
For further information regarding submitting a Public Path Order application, please contact the Definitive Map Office or relevant planning authority as appropriate.