Registering new Rights of Way on your land and The Deregulation Act 2015
The Deregulation Act 2015 has now become law and a small part of it may have a big impact on landowners when it comes to rights of way over their land being registered.
Sections 20-26 introduce modifications to registering rights of way with the aim of speeding up the processing of claims and taking some of the burden off the applicant.
One of the most important things the Act puts into effect is the cut-off date introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. This closes the Definitive Map and Statement for historical claims from 1st January 2026, in the hope of bringing more certainty to the public and to landowners. In practice, this means that paths which existed before 1st January 1949 must be registered as a right of way before the cut-off date, or they may be lost forever. Of course the imposition of a specific deadline is likely to lead to an increase in the number of claims; and local authorities already have a quite considerable backlog of applications, meaning that there is a potential for further delays.
That, however, is far from the aim of the Act as it contains many provisions which intend to accelerate the process, rather than hinder it.
Under the new provisions, once an application to register has been made the Authority has four months to consider it and to notify the applicant of their decision in writing. This further ensures that an application is at least considered so, in theory, it shouldn’t get lost amongst mounds of paperwork.
The Act also introduces (Schedule 7) a simplified procedure for correcting administrative errors on the Definitive Map and Statement. The surveying authority is required to make a preliminary assessment within three months to determine whether or not there is a reasonable basis for a claim. If not, the applicant can serve a notice and then within six months apply to the Magistrates’ Court for an order requiring the authority to assess the claim.
The procedures introduced by the Act appear sensible and should have the desired results, but where problems may initially arise is the consequences of a potential influx of applications resulting from the Act, in terms of the effect that may have on Authorities’ already significant backlogs.
The full Act can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/contents/enacted/data.htm
For further information on this topic please contact Anna Mottram at Bowcock Cuerden LLP.
This article is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide specific legal advice. It should not be relied upon in the absence of specific advice given in relation to particular circumstances. © Bowcock Cuerden LLP 2017