Creation of highways
Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors

The following Local Government practice note produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Creation of highways
  • The creation of highways without express agreement
  • Deemed dedication in statute
  • Deemed dedication in common law
  • Acceptance of a dedication
  • Land owner declaration

Creation of highways

The creation of highways without express agreement

Creating a highway without an express agreement has long been possible at common law and there are now statutory presumptions that apply in parallel with the common law.

Whether the dedication is express or inferred, a highway is created when a competent landowner:

  1. either dedicates some land as a highway, or

  2. is deemed to have dedicated some land as a highway, and

  3. that dedication (or deemed dedication) is accepted by or on behalf of the public

This Practice Note does not apply to private rights of way, which may or may not subsist, or be acquired by adverse possession, in private law along the route of a (claimed or proven) public highway.

Deemed dedication in statute

The way in which the public acquires highway rights upon deemed dedication is by repeated use of the route as a highway, without secrecy, without force and without the landowner’s permission. Use of a claimed highway on foot gains no more than a pedestrian right. Use on horseback or with a horse can gain bridleway rights. Use with a pedal cycle (or with any other vehicle with no mechanical propulsion) can gain highway rights for that type of vehicle. It is no longer possible to acquire public highway rights by using a mechanically propelled vehicle and no such use of a route (whether before

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