Claims of public rights of way over private land can be successful, if established through historic evidence that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ the status of a public highway already exists, which will lead to a legal record on the Definitive Map.

As a landowner, this can be difficult to challenge. There is no clear protection that can be put in place, although records of any extinguishment orders and expert professional advice can assist in challenging the weight of evidence presented during the determination process.

There is also no obligation for a landowner to provide information or access to private land if approached by a researcher and lobbying the local MP for the 2026 implementation date could be time well spent!

Author: Melanie Holt