Regular use by the public of an informal path, or land for lawful sports and pastimes, can result in those rights being formalised and recorded. You can protect your land against claims for public rights of way, or village green rights, by showing that, at the relevant time, you did not intend these rights to be acquired. This can be done by physical actions such as displaying notices, fencing the land or locking gates.
One option for landowners to protect their land is set out in legislation:
- Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 enables a landowner to deposit a statement accompanied by a map, acknowledging any existing public rights of way across their land at the same time as declaring that they have no intention of dedicating any further routes to the public (view the interactive map to see existing public rights of way). This is known as a highways statement and will protect the land for a period twenty years from the date of the deposit. However, it must be followed up with a declaration within this period, to ensure continued protection of the land for a further twenty years from the date of the declaration.
- Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006 enables a landowner to deposit a landowner statement accompanied by a map, which can be combined with a highways statement, to protect that landowner’s land from registration as a town or village green as well as protecting the land from claims for additional rights of way.
Register of landowner statements, highways statements and declarations
Once lodged with the County Council, the map, statement and declaration become public documents and available for public inspection. All local authorities are required to keep a public register of maps and statements deposited, and declarations lodged under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980.
Devon County Council maintains the electronic version of the register in the form of an interactive map
How to make an application
If you want to make an application to submit a highways statement (to protect your land against claims for rights of way) or a combined highways and landowner statement (to protect your land against claims for village green rights as well as rights of way), and/or a declaration, you will need to complete application form CA16. This form is available for download, along with further guidance, at GOV.UK – Commons Act 2006: landowner statements, highways statements and declarations form.
Before you send us your completed form CA16 you must make sure that:
- The application is signed by every owner of the land to which the application relates, or by their duly authorised representative.
- The application is accompanied by a plan, showing the rights of way over the land, at a scale of not less than 1:10,560 (a map at 1:5,000 is acceptable as an example). It should show the boundary of the land to which the application relates (the extent of landownership) in coloured edging.
- The application is accompanied by the appropriate fee (see below).
- You have supplied a contact email address and/or phone number.
Please send your completed application back to us at the address below. We will check the application form and map against the Definitive Map and if any amendments need to be made we will contact the applicant. If no amendments are needed, we will tell the applicant the date from which the deposit is effective and details of the deposit will be added to the Statement and Declaration Register which is in the form of an interactive map. Applications are usually processed within 4 weeks. It is the landowner’s (or their successors in title’s) responsibility to ensure that they submit a declaration every 20 years to keep the deposit effective. The County Council will not remind landowners when declarations need to be renewed.
Please note, the statement of truth in the application form places on the applicant the onus of getting facts correct. If the statement or map(s) in question contain a material error, then it could invalidate the application.
Address: Public Rights of Way, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton, Exeter EX2 7NL
Tel: 0345 155 1004 (please ask for Public Rights of Way)
|Description of work||Fee|
|Highways statements (parts A, B, F of form CA16)||£380.00|
|Highways declarations (parts A, C, F of form CA16)||£380.00|
|Combined highways statement and landowner statement (parts A, B, D, F of form CA16)||£420.00|
|Combined highways declaration and landowner statement (parts A, C, D, F of form CA16)||£420.00|
|Highways declaration received within 60 days of receipt of the initiating highways or combined highways and landowner statement||No fee|