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Landowner Declarations - Rights of Way and Commons

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 now requires Councils to keep a register of landowner statements and declarations lodged under Highways Act 1980, as well as landowner statements lodged under the Commons Act 2006.

From 1 October 2013, there have been changes to the procedures for Highways Act 1980 Statements and Declarations which landowners can submit to Councils to register.

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If landowners deposit a formal statement and map acknowledging the dedicated public rights of way on their land to the Council, they then have 20 years to lodge a formal declaration with the Council to the effect that no additional rights exist over the land since the date of the initial or previous (as the case may be) deposit.

A presumption is created

In the absence of proof of a contrary intention, these declarations are sufficient evidence to demonstrate the intention of the owner, and any successors in title, not to dedicate any additional rights as highways (which includes footpaths and bridleways) during the intervening period.

Highway Act statements and declarations enable landowners to acknowledge where public rights of way exist across their land but, in doing so, a presumption is created which makes it clear that they have no intention to dedicate any further routes across their land.

Statements under the Commons Act are similar and allow landowners to deposit a statement, accompanied by a map, which brings to an end any period of recreational use 'as of right' over the land to which the statement and map relate.

Village Green applications

I have experience of assisting landowners with statements or declarations. Although there are costs associated with the procedures, I recommend this as good practice for landowners. They will then have some certainty for the future that applications cannot be made to establish public rights over their land. I also recommend this process is repeated at regular intervals to prevent rights accruing in the future.

I also have relevant recent experience in related areas of law, such as Village Green Applications, Assets of Community Value and Local Green Spaces on behalf of promoters and objectors. Future blogs will deal with these and other countryside issues.

For further information contact me on 01743 280251.