The Definitive Map and Statements can be changed by  modifications, diverting, creating or extinguishing paths.


Diversion orders change the line of a right of way. Depending on the reason, diversions are made under different legislation.

Diversion in the interest of the landowner or public (Highways Act 1980)

Any diversion in the interest of the landowner must not be substantially less convenient to the public. 

These diversions are paid for by the applicant. 

The application can be made to the district council, but it is more usual to apply to the county council. The applicant may hire their own agent to process the non-statutory part of the work. 

There is no guarantee that a diversion application will be successful, but it is more likely to succeed if the outcome is beneficial to the public.

Proposals to divert paths can be made by members of the public, parish councils, and other organisations.

Contact the Rights of Way Service for more information:

0300 123 4047


Diversion to enable development (Town and Country Planning Act 1990)

Developers must apply where their proposed development would affect the line of a public right of way.

These diversions are paid for by the applicant. 

The application to move a right of way needs to be sent to the planning authority prior to development. This is usually the district or borough council. The planning authority is also responsible for granting planning permission.

You'll need to ensure that if an order is made it is confirmed before development is completed. If it isn't confirmed the order will be invalid and the right of way will not have been moved. 

Creations and dedications

Paths can be created by legal order or by agreement.  The county council can accept dedications under sections 25 and 38 of the Highways Act 1980.  It can also make creation orders under section 26 of the same act if there is a public need. 

Creations and dedications may include a totally new route or higher rights over an existing route. 

Any landowner can dedicate a route across their land as a public right of way. A parish council may also enter into an agreement under section 30 of the Highways Act 1980 to dedicate a right of way with a landowner, where in their opinion it would benefit local residents.

Advantages of dedicating for the landowner include:

  • The insurance liability for the landowner is reduced.
  • Structures can be included to prevent abuse or illegal use of the route.
  • Provides clarity as to the exact route to be used.
  • Provides clarity of the status of the route, e.g. footpath or bridleway.

Advantages of dedicating for the user include:

  • An improved network as more links are created.
  • Provision of off-road routes.

Contact the Rights of Way Service for more information:

Phone: 0300 123 4047


Paths can be extinguished under section 118 of the Highways Act 1980 if they are not needed for public use. 

As it is very difficult to show that a path is not needed, extinguishments are rare.  However, it is possible for extinguishment orders to be considered alongside creation and diversion orders.

It is also possible to extinguish paths:

  • Across railway lines under section 118A of the Highways Act 1980.
  • Through schools that are affected by crime and anti-social behaviour under section 118B of the Highways Act 1980.

Contact the Rights of Way Service for more information:

Phone: 0300 123 4047

Modifications (additions, changes, details)

An application can't be made because someone wants a change. It can only be made if there is evidence that:

  • A route should be added or removed.
  • A route has the wrong status (e.g. shown as a footpath instead of a bridleway).
  • A route is on the wrong line.
  • A route needs to be more precisely defined (e.g. have its width recorded).

Modification applications, under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, must be made using the Modification Application Pack (PDF 100kb) Opening a new window.

Making an application is a complex process.

You need to provide us with copies of the user evidence form (PDF 85Kb) Opening a new window  that you wish to rely on. 


Once we receive a modification application we prioritise it against policy-based criteria.  This is explained in the Statement of Priorities (PDF 33.57Kb) Opening a new window 

We have a large backlog of cases and it may be some years before your application reaches the top of the list.

Our flowchart (PDF 40.7kb) Opening in new window shows the application steps. The investigation may result in the county council making an order to amend the Definitive Map and Statement. See how a modification order decision is made (PDF 181kb) opening in a new window

Useful documents


If you have an objection to an application or an order, email the Rights of Way Service:

Quote the case reference number and leave your contact details.  You'll be contacted when the application is investigated.

If you wish to make a formal objection once the order is made you will be sent details of how to do this.