Deregulation Bill — a change of direction for rights of way?

The Deregulation Bill was laid before Parliament in January this year. The bill is part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge, the aim of which is to reduce the burden of regulation. The bill will go some way to achieving that aim by amending or repealing 182 pieces of legislation. From a real-estate perspective, some of the most interesting amendments are those that will affect public rights of way.

The bill proposes a raft of amendments to legalisation affecting rights of way. Of these, the amendments to the Highways Act 1980 (HA) have attracted the most attention. A report in The Times on 2 January 2014 suggested that the amendments would have the effect of granting landowners an ability to divert public rights of way, a statement that, while based in truth, is somewhat over-simplifying the reality of the proposals.

Powers already exist permitting landowners and land managers to apply to a local authority to make an order to either divert or close a public path crossing their land; as such, the changes to the HA do not really introduce any new law. What they do, however, is introduce new provisions dealing with rights of application and appeal…

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