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The Highways Act 1980, Section 31(6) provides a mechanism for landowners to acknowledge the presence of existing rights of way across their land and negate any intention to dedicate further ways thereby preventing new rights being established.
Protection against rights of way being established
While it is possible for new rights of way to come into existence through public use, a landowner can also prevent this happening by showing they have taken sufficient action to make it clear to the public they have no right to cross the land. There are various means of doing this, such as physical restraint in the form of locked gates, fences or other obstructions; verbal restraint; or challenge users of the way or by erecting a Highways Act compliant notice denying that a public right of way exists. However, many of the aforementioned come with their own restraints and it is sometimes difficult to maintain them in situ. Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 provides a mechanism for landowners to acknowledge the presence of existing rights of way across their land and protect their land from gaining further ways thereby preventing new public rights from being established.
Depositing a landowner statement
Section 31(6) allows landowners to make their intentions clear by depositing with the relevant Authority, a map and statement indicating any ways over that land they admit to be public rights of way. Then within 20 years a landowner must lodge a declaration to confirm that no new rights of way have been dedicated since the date of the deposit of the map and statement. Any public use of the land during this period will not then count towards the establishment of new rights of way.
Depositing a map, statement and declaration will not remove any public rights of way that are already recorded legally, or will not negate any rights where it is possible to establish a 20 year period of uninterrupted use which expired before the initial deposit of the statement and plan or where rights have come to light as a result of historical evidence.
Making a Section 31(6) Application
With the coming into force on 1 October 2013 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, procedures for Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 changed. Landowners, or their duly authorised representative, are now required to apply to deposit a statement and map, and/or lodge a declaration, with the relevant authority and applications must be made on a prescribed form (CA16).
Full details of how to make a deposit, a statement and map and the prescribed forms and guidance are available on the Government Website
Please note the following:
Applications to add deposits, maps and statements will not be accepted unless they comply with the requirements of the prescribed form
Deposits made after 1 October 2013 will be valid for 20 years (previously 10 years)
If the plots/parcels are separated by some distance then more than one application may be necessary
So as to bring the application to the attention of users of the land the new regulations Statutory Instrument 2013 No. 1774 as amended by Statutory Instrument 2016 No. 1081 require the local authority to publish notice in the form set out in Schedule 2 to the Regulations by various means including on the authority’s website and by email on any person who has previously asked to be informed of applications.
Leicestershire County Council is able to charge a reasonable fee for processing an application of this type and a charge is now applicable. The Council charges £350 for a Highways Deposit, but should your landholding be very large and/or separated by some distance then please contact the Council for a fee estimate. The Council reserves the right to review and change its fees in the future.
Depositing a Statement under Section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006
The Commons Act 2006 allow landowners to submit a statement to prevent land being registered as a town or village green, as the deposit brings to an end any period of use of the land as of right for recreation, provided the land has been used for that purpose for less than 20 years. A landowner statement triggers a one year period of grace during which local inhabitants can apply to register the land as a town or village green.
Deposits under Section 31(6) may be combined with a deposit under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 to protect the land against claims for village green rights. For further information please see Commons and Village Greens.
Inspection of Registers
Work on the development of an online register is ongoing. In the interim appointments to view the registers held by the authority can be made by contacting the Legal Services Section on 0116 3056752 or email Jane.X.Moore@leics.gov.uk.
The Completed Form CA16 needs to be sent by post or delivered to:
Director of Law & Governance (Ref: NV) Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Glenfield, LE3 8RA
Anyone seeking to apply to deposit a statement, plan or lodge a declaration under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 may wish to seek independent legal advice. However, suggested procedures, including tips about how to complete an application form are outlined below. Please refer to the ‘Guidance for the completion of form CA16’ published by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs for a more detailed explanation.
1. A landowner should complete application form CA16 adding or omitting the relevant particulars as per the DEFRA guidance.
2. The application must be signed by every owner of the land to which the application relates, or by a duly authorised representative who is entitled to dispose of the fee simple in the land. If the form is signed by an authorised representative, proof of that authorisation must be submitted with the application.
3. The statement sets out the land in question and admits what ways (if any) have been dedicated as highways over that land.
4. The statement must be accompanied by a plan at a scale of not less than 6 inches to 1 mile (effectively 1:10,560 or larger, i.e., 1:10,000, 1:5000, or 1:2500) showing the boundary of land to which the statement relates in coloured edging and identifying any ways that are acknowledged as public rights of way. To confirm the existence of rights of way will require consulting the Definitive Map and Statement.
The Councils Rights of Way team can carry out a standard search of the Definitive Map for you. This service includes marking on your map the routes of all recorded rights of way and is suitable to be used as a deposit map for your Application. The cost of a standard search is £40, which includes 2 copies of the map (up to size A3) on a 1:10,000 scale). The price for larger estates may be greater and based on the officer time taken and size of map required. Please note that the Council strongly suggests that this service be used as the responsibility to ensure that an application including the map has been properly made lies with the landowner. Any inaccuracies with the Application can negate the Deposit Statement/Declaration.
For further information about arranging to view and/or purchase copies of the Definitive Map for your landholding please contact Highways customer services and ask to speak to a member of the Rights of Way team on 0116 305000.
5. Please note the existence of a public right of way that already exists, whether formally recorded or not, will not be affected in any way if it is omitted from a plan. However, manually drawing a path that is not recorded as a right of way may be used as evidence that it has been dedicated as a public right of way.
6. The new regulations require the applicant to sign a ‘Statement of Truth’ (Part F of Form CA16). This places a burden on the applicant to ensure the information contained in submissions is accurate and carries a penalty if not made honestly. Leicestershire County Council only hold Section 31(6) statements and declarations on deposit and will not make any judgment as to the validity of the information they contain. Any inaccurate information could invalidate the effect of the application.
7. The application must be accompanied by the appropriate fee. The fee is currently £350 per application. For plots/parcels of land that are separated by some distance, more than one Application may be required.
8. Within 20 years from the date of deposit the landowner should follow up their original statement by lodging a declaration. This has the effect of confirming or acknowledging any changes or additions to rights of way over the land since the date of the previous deposit, or lodgement of a previous declaration.
9. It is not possible to simultaneously deposit a highways statement and lodge a highways declaration in relation to the same land. In order for a declaration to be effective as evidence against presumed dedication, the lodging of a declaration must take place after the deposit of a statement, but no more than 20 years later.
10. In respect of declarations under section 31(6) of the 1980 Act reference may be made to a map previously deposited in accordance with these Regulations.
11. In the absence of proof of a contrary intention, such a declaration is sufficient to negative the intention of the owner or their successors in title to dedicate any such additional way as a highway.
12. The application form in the 2013 Regulations only applies to applications made on or after 1st October 2013. The new procedure does not apply to any statement or declaration made before that date.
13. Remember to keep copies of the documents submitted for your own property records.