Highways Act 1980 Section 31 (6)
Landowners who wish to make clear that they have no intention of dedicating additional highways across their land are advised that there is a procedure set down in Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 for this purpose. The subsection reads as follows:
“An owner of land may at any time deposit with the appropriate council -
(a) a map of the land on a scale of not less than 6 inches to 1 mile (1:10,000) and
(b) a statement indicating what ways (if any) over the land he admits to having been dedicated as highways:
and, in any such case in which such deposit has been made, statutory declarations made by that owner or by his successors in title and lodged by him or them with the appropriate council at any time-
(i) within ten years from the date of deposit; or
(ii) within ten years from the date on which any previous declaration was last lodged under this section,
to the effect that no additional way (other than any specifically indicated in the declaration) over the land delineated on the said map has been dedicated as a highway since the date of the deposit, or since the date of the lodgement of such previous declaration, as the case may be, are, in the absence of proof of a contrary intention, sufficient to negative the intention of the owner or his successors in title to dedicate any such additional way as a highway.”
Subsection (7) defines “owner” as the person entitled to dispose of the fee simple in the land, and the “appropriate council” within Devon is the Devon County Council.
No precise form is prescribed for the initiating statement, but we have for many years on enquiry supplied a general form of wording as set out below. This can be adapted to most situations by including such (if any) of the words in round brackets as are relevant. In cases of joint ownership both parties must sign, though an authorised agent can make the statement on behalf of sole and joint owners.
Statement under s. 31(6) Highways Act 1980
Land at [insert description]
I/We [insert full name(s)], being (duly authorised to act on behalf of [insert name of owner(s)]) the owner(s) of the above land as defined in s. 31(7), enclose by way of deposit with Devon County Council a map whereon that land is shown edged red, and state that (the ways coloured brown are admitted to have been dedicated as carriageways) (and) (the ways coloured green are admitted to have been dedicated as bridleways) (and) (the ways coloured purple are admitted to have been dedicated as footpaths) (but that) no (other) ways over the said land are admitted to have been dedicated as highways of any type.
Signed: ____________ Dated: __/__/____
The term “carriageway” covers all routes with public vehicular rights, and thus includes county roads and the category of public right of way called Byways Open to All Traffic.
The statement and map (coloured in as necessary) are to be sent to the Public Rights of Way Service, Lucombe House, County Hall, Exeter, EX2 4QW. Receipt will be acknowledged.
It will be seen that the deposit must be followed by statutory declarations within succeeding periods currently of ten years. Owners may be best advised on the form of these declarations by their solicitor, who can also arrange for the swearing before a commissioner for oaths.
See Section 31(6) Deposits displayed on an interactive map - If you wish to view a deposit, click on the area shaded pink with the information tool. You may need to temporarily allow popups.