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Public Rights Of Way - in Birmingham

What is a public right of way?

A public right of way is a right by which any member of the public may travel across land. There are several kinds of 'way' over which the public have a right to pass and they are collectively known as highways. The nature of the right depends on the nature of the highway.

  • Footpath - right of way on foot only.
  • Bridleway - right of way on foot, horseback and on pedal cycle.
  • Restricted Byway – right of way on foot, horseback and non-mechanically propelled vehicles which, includes such things as pushbikes and horse and carriage but not motor vehicles.
    Byway open to all traffic (BOAT) - right of way on foot, horseback, pedal cycle and wheeled vehicles of all kinds including horse drawn vehicles. (These are generally used by the public for walking and riding)

Public rights of way form an important recreational resource for members of the public but also provide a means of access to local facilities such as shops and bus stops.

How can I find out where public rights of way exist?

Birmingham City Council keeps a record of Public Rights of Way known to exist within its area and also Registers of Applications for additions to and deletions of existing Public Rights of Way. We are also responsible for preparing the Definitive Map and Statement. If you have any queries relating to public rights of way, contact the Public Rights of Way Team on the details below.

What if there is a way that I think is public not shown on the records?

If you believe a public right of way exists but records held by us do not show this; you can apply to us for an order to be made to register it. This is controlled by statutory procedures and will require you to provide evidence to show that the route has been used by the general public for at least 20 years.

How can I get a public right of way diverted or closed?

It is not common for public rights of way to be diverted or extinguished. However, under special circumstances it may be possible to do so. Diversion can take place in the interest of the landowner, or for a development to take place but these necessities do have to be demonstrated and the process is not quick or easy. There is also a cost attached to the application which is open to challenge.

Closure due to Crime.

Prior to the introduction of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act), the only way to close public rights of ways was to demonstrate that the route is no longer needed for public use. The Crow Act introduced legislation that allows for the extinguishment of public rights of ways due to high levels of crime. The process requires evidence that intervention methods have failed and crime statistics related directly to the path are high before closure can be considered. It also requires for the Secretary of State to designate the area as one of ‘high crime’. The flow diagram for this process is laid out in the Rights of Way Improvement Plan.

Gating orders (Temporary)

In 2005, the Clean Neighborhoods Act introduced ‘Gating Orders’. These are non-permanent methods to temporarily gate off a public path in order to disperse or diffuse the crime at that location. The orders are reviewed periodically along with crime statistics and the route will ultimately be re-opened. The flow diagram for this process is laid out in the Rights of Way Improvement Plan.

Maintenance of public footpaths

In 2010, all public highways, including most of the public rights of ways were transferred to Amey LG on a 25 year Maintenance contract as a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). As such, they are inspected every 6 months and any defects are made safe. A limited number of public rights of ways are privately maintainable. In this case, Amey will inspect the path for defects and notify the landowner. To report a defect on a public path, use the online reporting form to submit a request for repair to Amey.

Fences or hedges adjacent to public rights of way do not form part of the highway and are usually there to prevent entry onto private land. If a fence has fallen down or a hedge is overhanging a public right of way causing and obstruction, you should report this to Highways (Tel: 0121 303 6644) who will arrange for appropriate action to be taken.


Contact Information:

If you would like more information about the Forum or how you can get more involved please contact the public rights of way team: