Definitive Map Modification Orders

Under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, a Definitive Map Modification Order may be applied for by anyone who considers that a public right of way is either:

  1. Not recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement, or
  2. Recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement but should be shown as a way of a different status, or
  3. Recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement but should no longer be recorded.
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Applications must be supported by evidence, which can be either: 

  • evidence of use
  • evidence contained in historic documents

For further advice and how to make an application to modify the Definitive Map and Statement in Cornwall by adding or upgrading a right of way, please download a Modification Order Pack which alongside important guidance also includes all the required forms.

It is also recommended that before making an application you speak to an officer in the Countryside Access Team using the contact details on ths page. 

Before making an application to modify the Definitive Map and Statement by removing a path, please read the information on the Deletion or Downgrading of a Public Right of Way.

Download a Definitive Map Modification Order Pack

Cornwall Council, in its role as the Surveying Authority, is required to keep a register of applications made under Section 53(5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for Definitive Map Modification Orders. The default display of Cornwall Council's register is that applications are listed in priority order with the highest priority application listed first.

View the Register of Definitive Map Modification Order Applications

For further assistance and guidance using the register, please see the DMMO Register Help page. The priorisation of applications is in line with the Cornwall Council Revised Policy Statement 2006.

Although a presumption of dedication can arise at common law, many claims involving user evidence are considered under Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980.

Under this legislation for deemed dedication of a public right of way to have occurred there must be evidence that the public have used the way as of right and without interruption for a period of 20 or more years, prior to the date when the public's right to use the way was bought into question.

However, landowners can successfully rebut a claim if they can show sufficient evidence of a lack of intention to dedicate the land during the period.

One method of demonstrating a lack of intention to dedicate a right of way is for a landowner to show that steps had been taken to prevent the accrual of public rights using Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980.

Please be aware - Submitting an application for a Definitive Map Modification Order is a statutory process in which applicants, users and landowners may be required to make statements which will be considered as evidence by the Council for the purpose of determining whether public rights of way exist over private land.

All potential applicants are advised that, as the outcome of any Definitive Map Modification Order application may depend on the evidence that they provide, they are aware that to dishonestly enter information or make a statement that is, or might be known to be, untrue or misleading, intending by doing so to make a gain for themselves or another person, or to cause loss or the risk of loss to another person, they may commit the offence of fraud under Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006, the maximum penalty for which is 10 years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both, and therefore they may want to seek their own legal advice before making an application.

For further information please see A guide to definitive maps and changes to public rights of way - 2008 Revision (Natural England).

If a potential applicant requires further assistance applying this guidance to their particular circumstances, which is a service Cornwall Council cannot offer, they may wish to seek advice at their own expense from a consultant specialising in rights of way.

Without making a direct recommendation or endorsement of their work, the Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management (IPROW) website contains a list of registered experts who may be in a better position to help.

Please note: Cornwall Council accepts no liability for the consequences of advice provided by people in an independent capacity and any decision to use consultants is taken at an applicant's own risk.

In response to the ‘cut off’ date set by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 whereby after 1 January 2026 historical rights to unrecorded paths and any unclaimed higher rights created before 1949 will be extinguished, Cornwall Council is working with its partners on a ‘Restoring the Record’ project.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact local branch representatives of the British Horse Society, or the Ramblers. All applications submitted under the auspices of this project must be in the prescribed format.

The documentation for current Definitive Map Modification Order reports are now being published to the DMMO Reports page.