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Rights of Way

This is a right to pass (and repass) over land belonging to somebody else. It could be a public footpath crossing private land or a more private arrangement which only applies to the immediate neighbours in a terrace of cottages when the provision may be covered by a licence or easement.

A public highway exists when everyone has rights of way at any time and for any purpose.

A right of way may be restricted – as a footpath access to next door’s garden, for those on horseback (a bridle path), or when driving animals. It may include vehicular use for a specific purpose, for example, to allow a tanker access to empty a septic tank on an annual basis.

Where a private pathway is used regularly, and the land owner has not attempted to restrict access, a right of way can soon be established under common law. Most rural footpaths were created in this way: the definitive plan – showing all public rights of way – maintained by County Councils, is a very recent concept.

Moving an established right of way is possible but not necessarily an easy process. In contrast, moving a private right of way is simply a matter of negotiation. Ideally one should then notify LR of the changes but that is not a legal obligation.

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