The definitive map of public rights of way can only be changed by legal order.

Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO)

Under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, a modification order may be applied for by any person who wishes the definitive map to be amended by either the addition, deletion, upgrading or downgrading of a route. In addition, the accompanying definitive statement containing the particulars of a right of way may be varied. Claims can be based on usage (user evidence) and/or documentary evidence.

Anyone may apply to Dorset Council to modify the definitive map and statement of rights of way and we have a legal duty to investigate their claims, examine the evidence and, in the light of the evidence, decide whether or not the claimed rights exist. 

Please note that this procedure is not used:

  • where you think it would be a good idea to have a public path in a particular place
  • if you think that the path is not suitable for its current classification and should be changed
  • if you think that the path is not needed for public use

A DMMO may be used where:

  • there may be a path that is not shown that you and others have been using as a public right of way for years and may wish to have recorded
  • a path shown with a particular description should be shown as a highway of a different description, for example where a footpath has been used for many years by horseriders and you wish to apply to have it recorded as a bridleway
  • there is no public right of way over land shown in the map and statement of any description, or it is in the wrong place
  • any other particulars in the map and statement require modification

Applying for a DMMO

  • check the definitive map
  • talk to the Definitive Map Team - we may be able to help with plans
  • check our online Register of DMMO applications to see whether a claim has already been made for this route
  • download the DMMO Application Pack April 2019 and Natural England guidance
  • gather your evidence, both documentary and from users of the route - this separate DMMO user evidence form E Apr 2019 can be used by witnesses
  • complete the forms carefully, we will help if you have any questions
  • identify all the owners and occupiers of all land to which the application relates (this includes anyone that has land next to the route in question and anyone who may have access along it)
  • tell them that you are making the application by giving them a completed 'Form B' - the Notice to be sent to all occupiers and owners affected by the application
  • send in your application to the Definitive Map Team
  • we will deal with your application subject to our statement of priorities

Statement of Priorities for applications for Definitive Map and Statement Modification Orders

Applications will normally be investigated in order of receipt. If one of the exceptions listed below applies, consideration will be given to prioritisation:

  1. where the physical existence of the claimed path is under threat due to development or excavation, mineral extraction or similar and will not be reinstated.
  2. where development is impeded by uncertainty as to status. (This only applies where planning permission for the relevant development has been granted and officers are satisfied that there is a genuine intention to implement the development immediately.)
  3. where a significant proportion of witnesses are unlikely to be able to attend an inquiry if consideration of the application is delayed.
  4. where the investigation of a claim would involve substantially the same area of land and/or evidence as a route currently under investigation, or about to be investigated, applications may be considered simultaneously.
  5. where the sale of a property is impeded by uncertainty as to status. (This only applies where officers are satisfied that there is a genuine intention to sell the property immediately.)
  6. where the claimed route provides a high benefit to a significant number of users e.g. proximity to amenities where evidence suggests the route is well used and no alternative nearby route exists.

Public Path Order (PPO)

Diverting or removing a path

If a public right of way is correctly recorded on the definitive map but there is a reason to move or delete the path you can apply for a Public Path Order (PPO). 

If a public right of way is affected by a development it should be diverted or stopped up by a PPO. Where there are no planning issues and you want to move (divert) or delete (extinguish) a public footpath, bridleway or restricted byway on your land you can apply to Dorset Council for a public path diversion or extinguishment order.

Due to the high number of diversion applications currently being processed, Dorset Council operates a waiting list for new applications. It should be noted that, while the council has a power to process diversions, this is not a statutory duty and as such only limited resources can be allocated to it.

For more information or for an application form please contact The Definitive Map Team on 01305 224463.

Diversions - Section 119 of the Highways Act 1980

You may either divert a public path onto another route elsewhere on your land or onto somebody else's land but you may have to pay them compensation. You will be responsible for the cost of any physical works involved in bringing the new route up to the required standard, for example the installation of gates or surfacing.

  • the new path must link to the old path either directly or via another highway
  • you cannot divert the whole path onto another highway - that would be an extinguishment

The new path has to be at least as convenient to the public as the old one. We also have to bear in mind the needs of nature conservation and of agriculture (which includes the keeping and breeding of horses).

Extinguishments - Section 118 of the Highways Act 1980

A public path can only be extinguished if you can show that the path is not needed for public use. The Courts have found that where the public is using a path, even occasionally, then it is needed and an extinguishment order cannot be confirmed.

Do not be tempted to block a public right of way off so people cannot use it and then apply for an extinguishment. Temporary circumstances preventing or diminishing use of the path by the public are disregarded. 'Temporary circumstances' have been found by the Courts to include a building - the general rule is that if it can be cleared by a JCB, then it is temporary.

Administration charges for Public Path Orders

Processing an application for a public path diversion or extinguishment order costs £3,000. Adjacent paths that can be considered at the same time and included in the same order are charged at £2,000 per path.

Other charges that might apply

  • the advertising costs for dealing with the application - the legislation requires us to advertise the order in a local newspaper and then if the order is confirmed you must also pay the cost of advertising the confirmation (this varies with the newspaper and length of advert required)
  • the cost of any works for creating the new right of way and bringing it into a suitable condition
  • compensating anyone who is affected by your proposals

The legislation allows us to delay confirming the order or referring the order to the Secretary of State (if there are objections) until you pay the invoice.

The administration charges (plus the cost of the first advertisement) are payable after an order has been made and advertised. A second invoice for the cost of the second advertisement will be sent after the order is confirmed and advertised in the local newspaper.

The Order will not come into effect until the Senior Ranger has certified that any work necessary to the new path has been completed and it is fit for public use.

You may be entitled to a refund where we:

  • do not confirm an order where there are no objections
  • do not send the order to the Secretary of State for confirmation, where there are objections, without first obtaining your consent
  • make an invalid order

The Definitive Map Team

Name: The Definitive Map Team
Tel: 01305 224463
Full contact details

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