Making a deposit under the Highways Act 1980 and the Commons Act 2006
Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 enables landowners to protect themselves against public rights of way coming into existence, based solely on a period of use by the public.
Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006 enables landowners to protect themselves against a parcel of land being registered as a village green or common based solely on a period of use by the public.
The procedure is the same in both instances. To do this, you will need to deposit a map, statement and statutory declaration with the highway authority (county council) showing which public rights of way you acknowledge over your land and declaring that you do not intend to dedicate additional ways. It is not necessary to deposit a statutory declaration when registering land under Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006.
There is a single application form on the GOV.uk website which should be used for both highways statements and declarations (public rights of way), and landowner statements (town and village greens).
You will need to provide the appropriate fee.
Deposits should be addressed to:
Public Rights of Way
Lancashire County Council
Guidance for landowners
When making your application:
- Obtain a recent or current map at 1:10,560 scale (or better) of the entire area involved (using more than 1 sheet if necessary).
- Carefully mark up on the map the precise route of all public rights of way shown on The Definitive Map or otherwise acknowledged to exist.
- The Definitive Map also can be inspected at County Hall, Preston, during normal office hours.
- Do not try to deny the existence of any public rights of way shown on the definitive map, unless an application for a definitive map modification order has already been made to delete them.
- Do not show unofficial (unlawful) diversions: the effect of the statutory declaration will be to confer right of way status on such routes and the route on the definitive map whether acknowledged or not will remain a public right of way.
- Draw up a statement and statutory declaration using the form and guidance on the GOV.uk website.
- Ensure that the documents are accurate and are declared before a Commissioner for Oaths, solicitor or Justice of the Peace. The statement should be made first and the statutory declaration shortly afterwards.
- You will need to submit a new declaration within 20 years for the deposit to remain effective. New declarations should be accompanied by further maps as necessary to reflect changes.
- Keep copies of maps, statements and declarations with the title deeds of the property or Land Charge certificate.
How it works
For Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980
By depositing a map and statement:
- It will be possible to allow continued informal use of farm tracks or access roads by local people without fear of a public right of way being claimed on the basis of future use from the date of the declaration (always provided that there is no other evidence of an intention to dedicate a public right of way).
- Where a track has been used informally, but for less than 20 years, it will not be possible for a right of way to be claimed through deemed statutory dedication (although a claim at common law might still be possible) in other words the clock is stopped by the deposit.
- Any new tracks or roads will automatically be protected from the possibility of any claim from the outset.
For Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006
By depositing a map and a statement:
- It will be possible to allow informal use of the land without fear of a village green or common being claimed on the basis of future use from the date of the declaration (always provided that there is no other evidence of an intention to dedicate a public right of way). This relieves the landowner of the need to take action to prevent actual use; such action can be potentially difficult, costly or create unnecessary bad feeling in the local community.
- Section 15A (2) of the 2006 Act provides that the deposit of a landowner statement does not prevent a new period of use commencing. Therefore if recreational use ‘as of right’ of the land were to continue then a new 20 year period of requisite user could begin to accrue. However, if a landowner statement is deposited within 20 years of the previous deposit, then it will again prevent any recreational users of the land reaching the 20 years’ use required by the greens registration criteria (in other words because the clock is stopped once more before it reaches 20 years).
- For land which has been subject to recreational use as of right for 20 years or more before a landowner statement is deposited, the deposit of such a statement would trigger the one year period of grace allowed for greens applications which rely on the qualifying criteria provided by section 15(3) of the 2006 Act, in other words where use of the land as of right has ceased.
Depositing a map, statement and declaration does not take away any rights which have already been established through past use or which can be shown through historical documentary evidence. However, depositing the documents will immediately fix a point at which any unacknowledged rights are brought into question. The onus will then be on anyone claiming that a right of way exists to demonstrate that it has already been established. Under deemed statutory declaration, the 20 year period would thus be counted back from the date of the declaration. If any subsequent claims succeed, the deposited documents should be revised.
For a highways statement or highways declaration deposited under S31(6) Highways Act 1980 or a landowner statement under S15A Commons Act 2006
£300 for a single parcel of land. Additional parcels within the same application are charged at £34.78 per hour.
For depositing both a highways statement or highways declaration under S31(6) Highways Act 1980 and a landowner statement under S15A Commons Act 2006 at the same time.
£370 for a single parcel of land. Additional parcels within the same application are charged at £34.78 per hour.
For further advice contact Lancashire County Council on:
Tel: 0300 123 6701