Definitive map and modification orders
Produced in partnership with Alastair Frew of Lodders Solicitors and Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors

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

  • Definitive map and modification orders
  • Statutory basis and effect
  • Modification orders
  • Procedure for making a modification order
  • Modification orders initiated by the authority
  • Modification orders initiated by application to the authority
  • Special order or consent order
  • Administrative error orders
  • Automatic modification orders
  • The register

Definitive map and modification orders

Statutory basis and effect

Every highway authority must keep a definitive map and statement (DMS) of the public rights of way in its area. The DMS kept by any particular authority will be the ones it has started, in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981):

  1. either under (now repealed) sections 32 or 33 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, or

  2. under WCA 1981, s 55

This DMS are in addition to and separate from the authority’s:

  1. list of highways maintainable at the public expense

  2. register of maps, statements and declarations relating to land over which the owner denies dedicating any public right of way

In Trail Riders Fellowship v SSEFRA, the court emphasised the difference between WCA 1981, s 53, which is conclusive evidence of certain rights of way, and section 36(6) of the Highways Act 1980 (HiA 1980) which identifies and records streets maintainable at public expense, but does not, in contrast to a DMS, precisely delineate them. Streets marked (or not marked) on a list of highways maintainable at public expense may not be conclusive evidence to support an application to modify the DMS.

The minimum scale (1:25,000), the format and the notations to be used in the definitive map are prescribed in the Wildlife and Countryside (Definitive Maps and Statements) Regulations 1993.

See Trail Riders Fellowship v Dorset

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