Developments on or near a Public Right of Way

Thinking about making a planning application?

Information and advice for developers and builders

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Cornwall has over 4,300km of Public Rights of Way so the chance that your proposed development may affect one or more paths is high. 

Why do I need to know if a Public Right of Way (PROW) crosses the land I want to build on?

Public Rights of Way must remain open and unobstructed at all times until the necessary statutory procedures, which authorise closure or diversion of the path/s, are complete.   The fact that planning permission has been granted, or is not required, does not entitle a developer to obstruct, interfere with or move a Public Right of Way. 

Wherever possible the development should accommodate the line of the existing path.  However, if this is not possible, there is means within the planning permission to have the path stopped up or diverted (if proven necessary).  It is essential, therefore, that developers consider the question of Public Rights of Way at the earliest stage, i.e. when formulating development proposals.

Where can I find out about public rights of way affecting the site?

Public rights of way are shown on the Definitive Map.

What Happens if I build over a PROW?

If you build over a PROW, that property will be blighted and you must inform the purchaser, as you are under a legal duty to disclose any and all liabilities.  Additionally. the Highways Authority can legally remove any obstruction over or across a PROW and recover the costs from the landowner.

How can I, as a builder/developer do the right thing?

  • Check the Definitive Map to confirm if there is a PROW over the land concerned.
  • Wherever possible, accommodate the line of the existing  PROW within the    development proposals.
  • Include the PROW information within your Planning Application.
  • Discuss the issue of diverting the path or stopping it up under the Town and County Planning Officer and staff in The Countryside Service at Cornwall  Council 0300 1234 202.

See also: Buying, Building and Extending Property

Are there any costs involved?

Yes, costs are involved.  However, it is much cheaper to resolve matters when you are going through the planning application process rather than rectifying the problem later which, at worst, could result in you having to cover the cost of taking the building back down again.

What are the costs and how long does it take?

Costs do vary, so you need to discuss this with the Planning Officer.  The time scale is dependant upon you giving good and accurate information when you submit your plans.

I know I have a PROW across the site, but I do not want to build over it, although I do want it temporarily closed to allow me to safely develop the site.

This is not a problem.  You can apply to have the PROW temporarily closed for a maximum period of six months.  There are costs involved and you need to give 3 months written notice by writing to:

Cornwall Council,
Western Group Centre,
Radnor Road,
TR16 5EH

or call 0300 1234 222

The local Highway Authority has a duty, under Highway law, to "protect and assert" the right of the public to use and enjoy Public Rights of Way.  Any developer who obstructs or interferes with a Right of Way before the necessary Order has been confirmed may be prosecuted.  The Local Authority also has the power to have the developer reinstate the Right of Way ... even if this means pulling the building down again.

For more information about the planning application process contact our local planning team in your area.  Teams based in Liskeard, Bodmin, St Austell, Truro, Camborne and Penwith.

Tel : 0300 1234 151