Applications for amendments to the rights of way network by creating, diverting or stopping-up a right of way can be submitted to Wealden District Council. It should be noted that the present legislation makes the stopping-up of an existing right of way extremely difficult.
Where an application is submitted in conjunction with a planning application the proposals are considered under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Planning approval alone does not entitle the developer to remove or obstruct a public right of way.
If the application is made by a landowner in conjunction with their own land or in the public interest are considered under the Highways Act 1980.
In both cases the procedure is similar:
- The Council carries out an initial consultation on the proposed change with the county and parish/town councils, the utility companies and the organised user groups such as the Ramblers Association and Open Spaces Society
- If unopposed, then a legal order can be made. This is advertised on the site and in a local newspaper to allow for public comment
- If this stage is unopposed, then the physical changes to the network can be made
- The legal order is then confirmed and re advertised to announce the implementation of the change
It should not be assumed that the Council will automatically make an order or that any order will be automatically confirmed. Objections may be received and alternative routes may be proposed. Without any objections this procedure can take 6-9 months. With objections this procedure may take 12 months or more. Where a compromise cannot be reached, the matter may have to be referred to the Planning Inspectorate for a decision.
Applicants must own the land over which the existing and proposed changed rights of way run or have the written permission of the landowner. The Council cannot impose a change on landowners.
The council currently charges a fee of £1,750 (2019/20) for such work to cover the staff time involved and the legal costs. In addition there are two advertisement costs typically of £250-£300 each and the actual costs of creating the new routes in moving stiles, erecting signposts etc. The costs must be borne by the applicant.