Public access to private land

Highways statements and declarations

If the public has used land as a way – for example, as a restricted byway – without force, secrecy or permission for 20 years and the landowner did not interrupt that use, the land could be recorded as a highway by 'presumed dedication'.

Landowners can avoid this by depositing certain documents with us. It is a 2-stage process.

Stage 1

Landowners must first deposit a highways statement and map that acknowledges whether any ways have already been dedicated across their land as highway. This admits the existence of those ways, whether they were dedicated by you or any previous owner. If any ways do exist across the land, landowners must say in their highways statement what types of way they are and show on the map where they are located.

The map must be at a scale of 1:10,560 or more detailed – that is, not less than 6 inches to 1 mile.

Stage 2

Landowners must then within 20 years of the statement – or 10 years for statements before 1 October 2013 – lodge a highways declaration that confirms they did not dedicate any additional ways over the land, or only those mentioned in the declaration, since the date of the highways statement.

By completing both steps the landowner confirms their intention not to dedicate any ways, or only those ways mentioned, during the time between the date of the statement and the date of the declaration.

Declarations do not affect anything which took place before the deposit of a statement.