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Gates and Stiles Guidance Note for Landowners and Users

Erection of a new stile or gate

You are not allowed to erect a new stile or gate on a public right of way unless:

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  • You have applied for and received formal authorisation from the highway authority by contacting the Countryside Access Team using the details on this page or
  • The stiles or gates are included as limitations on the Definitive Map and/or Statement (please contact the Countryside Access Team).

To report a problem, such as a suspected illegal stile or gate, please use the link below:

Report a public right of way issue 

Under the Highways Act 1980, a highway authority may only authorise landowners, tenants or occupiers the right to erect a stile or gate if it is to prevent the 'ingress and egress' (i.e. entering and leaving) of animals on land which is used, or being brought into use, for agricultural or forestry purposes (agricultural purposes includes the breeding and keeping of horses). The authority may impose conditions for maintenance and measurement specifications. There is no appeal against an authority's refusal to grant authorisation or its imposition of conditions.

Stiles and gates may be placed on a public right of way provided that they are included as limitations on the statement when dedicating a new public path.

The law will only allow a structure, such as a gate or a stile, to be erected on a footpath or bridleway. A structure cannot be erected on a byway.

There is a presumption against the authorisation of new structures on public rights of way. The onus will be on the applicant to prove the need for the structure and preference will be given to requests for gates over stiles. Stiles will only be considered as replacement structures where there is no local need for easier access and an alternative structure cannot be made suitably stock proof, e.g. a self closing latched gate or a kissing gate.

If permission is granted to erect a structure across a public right of way the following conditions will apply:

  • The applicant will be responsible for the cost of both erecting and maintaining the structure(s) to the specified standards;
  • Only the type of structure(s) for which permission has been granted may be erected;
  • Gates on bridleways must be easy to open from both sides whether on horseback or on foot.

If the conditions that enabled the Council to authorise the structure(s) change then the structure(s) must be removed. If the route is upgraded the permission for the structure(s) must be reapplied for. If any of these conditions are not met Cornwall Council will require the structure(s) to be removed.

Once permission to erect a structure has been granted there are three options:

  1. The Council's Countryside Service will provide a technical drawing setting out the specification for the structure and it can be constructed by the applicant;
  2. Cornwall Council can be paid a fee and will arrange for a contractor to supply and erect the structure(s) on behalf of the applicant;
  3. Cornwall Council can be paid a fee and will provide a structure kit that can be erected by the applicant*.

* If the structure(s) is/are required to replace an existing structure(s) which has reached the end of its serviceable life then the fee will be reduced by 25% (as a result of a 25% contribution to the cost of replacement by Cornwall Council). Whichever option is chosen it is important that as soon as the structure has been erected it will require inspection and approval by the Area Ranger, without their written approval the structure could be regarded as illegal and deemed to be an obstruction in which case it may be required to be removed.