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New guidance on diverting or extinguishing public rights of way

View profile for Hannah Taylor
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DEFRA has issued new guidance which should be taken into account by local authorities when considering applications for the diversion or extinguishment of public rights of way.

The new guidance applies when the public right of way passes through the garden or curtilage of a residential dwelling, a farmyard or other commercial or industrial premises. 

It is something that the CLA has been working towards for some time and will be welcomed by many landowners and business owners who hope to divert or extinguish public rights of way that present privacy, security and safety concerns.

The new guidance recognises that public rights of way passing through contained spaces, such as through a working farmyard, are not ideal for the landowner or members of the public who themselves often feel uncomfortable in using such a route.

Local authorities are therefore now directed to weigh the interests of the owner/occupier against the overall impact of the proposed diversion or extinguishment of the route on the public.  In doing so they should now take into account considerations such as privacy, security and safety.

The legislative tests for extinguishment and diversion under the Highways Act 1980 are set out in sections 118 and 119 (respectively) and the new guidance states that local authorities should be predisposed to make the necessary order if those tests are satisfied.  The guidance does, however, re-iterate the existing stance that, wherever possible, the route should be diverted as opposed to extinguished. 

I believe this guidance is a very positive step in the right direction and I hope it will assist local authorities with prioritising and concluding applications.

Based at our offices in Worcester, Hannah Taylor is a senior associate within our award-winning Agricultural and Rural Affairs Division.

If you require any advice relating to Public Rights of Way, or other rural-related issues, please do not hesitate to contact Hannah through 01905 610410, or email

Readers can also connect with Hannah on LinkedIn through