Definitions of rights of way are set out below:
- Public rights of way are ways over which the public have the right to pass and repass.
- Public footpaths are for pedestrians only.
- Public bridleways are for pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists.
- Public byways are for pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists and motorised vehicles, subject to the character of the way.
Use this link to the UK Countryside and Nature Conservation website to provide more information on the definition of the different types of public rights of way.
Can I check if a path is a public right of way?
If you wish to check whether a path is a public right of way please contact our Roads Team. On receipt, we will check the status of the route on the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way. If the route is not recorded as a public right of way it could be a claimed path. If the path is not recorded then we do not have any responsibility to maintain it.
Definitive Map and Statement
The Definitive Map and Statement for Wolverhampton records all public rights of way within the City. The map and statements are maintained by the Council and are regularly reviewed to ensure routes are added, re-graded or deleted as required.
The Definitive Map and statement are available for inspection at Qualcast Road Highways Depot, Qualcast Road, during office hours:
Monday to Friday - 9:30am to 4pm*
*It is advisable to telephone before visiting the office to ensure an officer will be available to help you with your enquiry.
Making changes to the Definitive Map and Statement
If you have evidence that information contained within the Definitive Map and Statement is wrong, changes can be made via a process known as the Definitive Map Modification Order.
Modification orders may be made for the following changes:
- to add a right of way where it is known but not recorded on the map.
- to alter the status of a right of way.
- to delete a right of way where it has been shown on the map in error.
- to record a width in the Definitive Statement.
To apply for a modification order please write to:
City of Wolverhampton Council
Qualcast Road Highways Depot
detailing the reasons for the modification request, evidence to show the definitive map and statement is wrong and a location plan.
City of Wolverhampton Council currently has no outstanding applications for Definitive Map Modification Orders. if any are received, details will be posted on this page.
Apply for an alteration
If you propose to make any alteration to the line of a Public Right of Way, it will be necessary to make an application using the forms shown in the downloads section.
Making a statement or declaration under Section 31 (6) of the Highways Act 1980
While it is possible for new rights of way to come into existence through public use, a landowner can also prevent this happening by showing they have taken sufficient action to make it clear to the public they have no right to cross the land. There are various means of doing this, such as:
- Physical restraint in the form of locked gates, fences or other obstructions;
- Verbal challenge of users of the way;
- Erection of carefully worded notices denying that a public right of way exists or allowing access by permission only.
- Barriers, or notices may suffice, but they can be difficult to maintain in situ.
There are further steps a landowner can take to reduce the risk of rights from accruing.
Under Section 31 (6) of the Highways Act 1980, statements and declarations can be submitted to the council by landowners. There are several benefits of depositing a map, statement and declaration:
- It will be possible to allow continued informal use of tracks and paths (for example, by local people) without fear of a public right of way being gained on the basis of future use
- Where a track or path has been used by the public, but for less than 20 years, it will not be possible for a right of way to be claimed through presumed dedication (although a claim at common law might be possible)
- Any new tracks or paths will be protected automatically from the outset
- The deposit will immediately fix a point in time at which any unacknowledged rights are brought into question by the landowner. This is important if a claim to record a right of way based on use by the public is made to the Council
- A landowner may at any time, deposit a statement and plan, indicating any ways over their land that have been dedicated as public rights of way. Submissions under the 1980 Act do not protect a landowner from claims which can establish 20 years uninterrupted use prior to the date of submission, or which are based on documentary evidence. However, the deposit of a statement and plan does stop time running forward for the acquisition of public rights buy usage, and constitutes an effective challenge for future claims.
With the coming into force on 1st October 2013 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, procedures for Section 31 (6) of the Highways Act 1980 changed. Landowners, or a duly authorised representative, are now required to apply to deposit a statement and map, and/or lodge a declaration, with the relevant authority and applications must be made on a prescribed form (CA16).
The same form also allows for the deposit of a statement accompanied by a map with the commons registration authority to protect a landowner against a registration of a town or village green.
Depositing a landowner statement
Section 31(6) allows landowners to make their intentions clear by depositing with the appropriate authority a map and statement indicating any ways over that land they admit to be public rights of way. Then within 20 years a landowner must lodge a declaration to confirm that no new rights of way have been dedicated since the date of the deposit of the map and statement. Any public use of the land during this period will not then count towards the establishment of new rights of way.
The procedure will not defeat an application where it is possible to establish a 20 year period of uninterrupted use which expired before the initial deposit of the statement and plan; nor where rights have come to light as a result of historical evidence.
Publishing Notice of Application
So as to bring the application to the attention of users of the land the new regulations (Statutory Instrument 2013 No. 1774) instruct the local authority to publish notice by various means including on the authority's website, by email on any person who has previously asked to be informed of applications and or not less than 60 days at or near at least one obvious place of entry to (or, if there are no such places, at or near at least one conspicuous place on the boundary of) the land to which the application relates.
For full detailed guidance and the CA16 application form, please follow this link.
Deposits under Section 31 (6) may be combined with a deposit under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 to protect the land against claims for village green rights.
Section 31(6) Register
The Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Dedicated Highways (Registers under Section 31A of the Highways Act 1980) (England) Regulations 2007 mean the City of Wolverhampton Council as the highway authority has a duty to add these documents to a public register of statements and make any subsequent deposit or declaration available for public inspection.
Your deposit, map and subsequent statement under Section 31 (6) and the appropriate fee should be sent to:
City of Wolverhampton Council
Qualcast Road Highways Depot
For further information please telephone 01902 551807.
Obstruction to Rights of Way?
If you believe a public right of way is being obstructed in any way then please contact our Roads Team. An obstruction could be:
- overhanging branches or encroaching foliage
- uneven surface
- deliberate obstruction by a third party
- blockage by fly tipping
- or similar problems.