We recently reviewed the status of protection a client has from the formation of new footpaths over their land. This protection is achieved via section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. Section 31(6) enables a landowner to deposit a statement accompanied with a map, followed by a declaration, with their local council, acknowledging any existing public rights of way across their land, at the same time as declaring that they have no intention to dedicate any further routes to the public. This puts a block on new footpaths or rights of way being created for twenty years.

How very dull I hear you say! This may be the case, but in truth it is very important and it’s important for the following reasons.

  • If you believe that your land may be developed in the future, you would want to know that third parties could not at that point inform the Council that they think there is an unregistered public right of way that cuts directly through one of the building plots.
  • Footpaths, whilst serving a public good, can be troublesome to farms and estates.

When we reviewed our client’s position it became apparent that they had made a submission to the council in 2004. At that time, the statement only lasted for 10 years and they were therefore at risk of having new rights of way imposed on their land. Needless to say, we are in the process of submitting a new declaration to protect the land for the next 20 years.

Whilst dealing with the Council, we reviewed their list of landowner declarations.  We noted that there are various declarations submitted before 2008, with no subsequent declaration having been made, meaning protection from the creation of new rights of way will have lapsed. This exposes a property to the risk of a third party claiming a permanent right of way.

Do you know if you are up to date with your section31(6), or have you never done one for your land? If you are unsure, please give us a call.

Howie, Kent & Co are able to submit a declaration to the Council on your behalf, putting together the required statement, plans and declaration. If preventing the creation of any third-party rights of way over your property is of interest, please give us a call or send us an email and we will be happy to discuss how section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 works and how the advantages of being proactive in submitting a declaration can help protect your property.