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Dorset Local Access Forum

Discover some of the issues that we consider, debate and provide advice on.


Public paths and open green space provide an important network for public recreation, travel and health, refuge for wildlife and attractions for visitors, that help to boost our local economy.

Dorset has a network of approximately 4,600km of Public Rights of Way (footpaths, bridleway, and byways open to all traffic and restricted byways). Public open green space includes Access Land, local and long distance routes, picnic sites, country parks and conservation areas. 

Could it be improved to better meet public needs today and in the future? 

For example some paths are difficult to use because you may need to cross busy roads, paths could be created or diverted to provide safe off road routes to get about your local area - to schools, shops and the wider countryside. Some paths lend themselves to small improvements that would enable people with disabilities to get out and enjoy the countryside. How is the best way to promote their use, and how can the network be developed to benefit public health, the local economy, tourism, sustainable transport and safeguard our stunning environment? These are just some of the issues that we consider, debate and provide advice on.

Vision document

We are a statutory, independent body established through the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW 2000)

The Dorset Local Access Forum covers the county area of Dorset but we also look into boundary issues with our neighbours - Devon, Somerset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. Our work focuses on access issues pertinent to Dorset as well as those debated nationally. We represent a range of local interests concerned with improving public access, from walkers, horse-riders, cyclists, horse carriage drivers, 4X4 users, people with disabilities, young people, farmers, foresters, conservationists, public health bodies, tourism organisations, and public transport teams. We advise the government at all levels and numerous other organisations and bodies.

A Future for Countryside Access was written by the DLAF in conjunction with Dorset Council. This document provides a basic overview of Countryside Rights of Way Act (CROW) 2000, the role of the Dorset Local Access Forum and the rights of way improvement plans (ROWIPs). The document discusses, informs, suggests ideas and poses questions about a range of issues to be considered and potentially action through the ROWIP preparation process.

Although the draft consultation has now finished, your comments are still welcome.


The main themes it considers are access management, maintenance and promotion; access for all, planning, transport, social exclusion, health, recreation, tourism, economy and quality of life for local communities and partnership working, resources and monitoring.


The aim of this document was to stimulate debate and generate both qualitative and quantitative information to assist in the work of the DLAF and inform the preparation of the Dorset ROWIP.


The document went out for consultation for approximately 10 weeks and was distributed as widely as possible including:

  • all town and parish councils
  • all parish rights of way liaison officers
  • local authorities
  • neighbouring authorities and councils
  • Dorset Council departmental officers
  • all Dorset Council members
  • user group organisations representing walking, cycling, equestrian and vehicular users
  • land management organisations representing environmental, agricultural, forestry, heritage and landscape groups
  • community planning officers and community planning groups
  • organisations representing older people, younger people, disabled people, tourism, education, community and arts, health, sports/recreation, economy, transportation
  • transport companies and representatives
  • government agencies
  • Ordnance Survey
  • Police
  • National trail/South West Coast Path
  • general public - available on request, issued to members of the public at the Dorset agricultural shows and made available online

Contact us

Contact details for the Dorset Local Access Forum team. We still welcome your comments, please contact us for any further information.

You can also view our structure and terms of reference.

Dorset Local Access Forum Co-ordinator

Name: Tara Hansford
Tel: 01305 221779
Full contact details for Dorset Local Access Forum Co-ordinator

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