Positive new guidance on footpath diversions
Positive new guidance on footpath diversions

Positive new guidance on footpath diversions

New guidance has been published which could prove helpful for landowners and farmers hoping to divert or extinguish a footpath because of privacy, safety and security concerns.

Defra has issued new guidance, effective from 1 August 2023, which sets out how local authorities should give weight to the adverse impact of a public right of way on a landowner if the route passes through the garden or curtilage of a private house, a farmyard or commercial premises.

Diverting a footpath is a notoriously long and complicated process and one which can come with significant costs if there is opposition.

 This new guidance is very helpful because it makes clear to local authorities that the impact of the route of a footpath – in terms of a landowner’s privacy, security and safety – is an important consideration, which must be given weight when coming to a decision.

The circumstances under which landowners will be able to benefit from this new guidance are fairly limited – but it does mean that local authorities will be obliged to take a more practical approach in instances where rights of way go through the middle of someone’s garden or farmyard.

Before agreeing to any changes, the local authority will need to consider all the options available and wherever possible will be looking to divert or replace the right of way, rather than close it.

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