Public Rights of Way

The Public Rights of Way group looks after public footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic across the city, as well as large areas of access land. Our paths are a mixture of rural, woodland, open space, moorland, river corridors urban fringe and some urban and are mainly sign posted with their recorded status from the roadside.

Our responsibilities include:

  • maintaining paths, signs, stiles, gates, bridges, overgrowth, surfaces
  • protecting your rights to use Public Rights of Way
  • definitive map and Statement
  • closing and diverting paths temporarily or permanently
  • claimed paths are well used paths not recorded as public
  • adopt a path – volunteers help look after paths
  • open access (Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000)
  • statutory registers relating to the definitive map
  • Local Access Forum advises us on countryside access matters
Report motorcycles on footpaths

Contact South Yorkshire Police about motorcyclists using Public Rights of Way unlawfully.

Maintaining paths

We are responsible for:

  • signing public paths from the roadside
  • way marking public paths away from the road where we believe it to be necessary to be able to follow the correct route.
  • maintaining the surfaces of public paths, although many are just grass
  • maintaining bridges, gates and stiles across public paths
  • keeping vegetation from obstructing public paths
  • keeping trees on paths in a safe condition

Please contact us if you encounter any maintenance or signing problems on public paths.

Path construction details and path furniture

In normal situations you will require approval from the Public Rights of Way Group to carry out works on a public path even if you are the landowner.

There is a variety of gates, stiles and footbridges available that are suitable to use on public paths that can be purchased from suppliers or built on site.

Please ensure you contact us before carrying out any work on public paths, as you will have to have the works approved. It may be essential for you to temporarily close the path to protect the public and yourself. This will require a legal order, which has a charge attached.

Protecting your rights

We are responsible for ensuring that landowners and others do not affect your right to use public paths. We can take action against people who block or damage paths or who do something that stops you from using them. Some problems you may find include:

  • gates that are locked
  • stiles that are blocked
  • landowners and farmers telling you there is no path
  • 'private' or 'keep out' signs on or near paths
  • paths that are churned up by vehicles
  • fences or walls that are put up across paths
  • bulls on their own or dangerous dogs on or near paths
  • barbed wire or electric fences alongside paths
  • paths that are ploughed up or blocked by crops

Please contact us if you find any of these problems on or near public paths. If you come across a problem that is not on this list then please contact us anyway to see if we can help. We would advise you that in certain circumstances we cannot take direct action ourselves but can only advise people of the problem. Some specific issues can only be dealt with either by a civil action by yourself or by other parties.

Public Rights of Way Definitive Map and Statement

The Definitive Map and Statement (DMS) are the legal documents that record Public Rights Of Way (PROW).

The existence of a path on the DMS is conclusive evidence in law that a PROW exists. If a path is not shown it does not mean that it is not public, it may carry public rights but they are not yet recorded or formalised.

The Definitive Map and Statement show:

  • public footpaths – PROW for pedestrians plus usual accompaniments (eg dog under close control, pushchair)
  • public bridleways – PROW for pedestrians, horse riders and pedal cyclists plus usual accompaniments
  • restricted byways – PROW for pedestrians, horse riders, pedal cyclists and non-motorised vehicles (eg horse drawn carriages) but not for motor vehicles, plus usual accompaniments
  • byways open to all traffic (BOATS) - PROW for all including motorised vehicles. Most have an unmade surface and may not be easily passible in poor weather

View the map and statements

You can view our working copy of our Definitive Map (DM) online. It is not the DM, it is not a legal document and cannot be relied on as such. Public Rights Of Way are shown at a maximum scale of 1:10,000.

View the Working copy of our Definitive Map.

If you require a certified printed copy of the DM there is a cost for this. Please contact Highway Records to request and pay for this service, see the Highway Records page.

If you wish to view the Definitive Statement for any path on the DM please email PROW

The online working copy of the DM also includes all permissive paths we are aware of and all formal claims for unrecorded PROWs. For a list of current claims see our Public Rights of Way Statutory Registers page.

Closing and diverting public paths

It is illegal to close or divert a public path without the necessary legal consents being obtained in advance. It is possible for contractors and landowners to temporarily divert paths for between one day and 6 months to allow for site works to be carried out safely. However, we would always encourage an applicant to try and keep the path open if possible.

It is also possible to temporarily close paths for the same reason, if there is nowhere suitable to divert the path to. Again, it is preferable for the path to be kept open if at all possible, not least because you may have problems securing the site if you try to exclude the public completely.

It is also possible to permanently divert paths to allow building and certain other developments to take place, to improve the path network for users and to assist in efficient management of the land in question, provided that you have somewhere suitable to divert the path to. It is also possible to permanently close paths in very limited circumstances, although this is very rare.

Temporary diversions and closures cost the applicant between £900 and £2,000 and permanent diversions are likely to cost the applicant around £4,900 plus VAT.

Please contact:

Adding and amending public paths

Public rights of way are recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement (DMS). These form the legal record of public paths and their status as either a public footpath, public bridleway, restricted bridleway or byway open to all traffic.

You can apply to amend the DMS if you believe it to be wrong and have evidence to show that it should be changed to add a new public right of way, or to upgrade, downgrade or delete existing routes. You can also make an application to alter the Definitive Statement if you believe it to be wrong.

Such an application is known as a Schedule 14 application for a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO). To apply to amend or change the DMS, download the application form, guide and user evidence form (if appropriate) and submit them.

You can also see our list of Schedule 14 applications.

If you wish to enquire about closing or diverting a correctly recorded public right of way then please refer to the section above (Closing and diverting public paths).

Local Access Forum

Local Access Forums (LAFs) have a statutory duty to advise local authorities and government bodies on the improvement of public access to land in their areas.

The Sheffield LAF was formed in 2003 and has 14 members, who have been appointed for a maximum of 3 years each. The members represent the interests of landowners, land managers, conservation groups and users of public paths and open spaces. 

LAF meetings are generally held quarterly and are open to the public (although the public will generally not be given an opportunity to speak).

The meetings are currently held at the JG Graves Woodland Discovery Centre, Ecclesall Woods, Sheffield. Disabled access and facilities are available.

Countryside and Rights of Way Act

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) created a statutory right of access on foot to Access land. In England, the public now has a right to roam across 940,000 hectares of mountain, moor, heath and down, which represents around 7% of the country, without keeping to established paths.

The Peak District National Park Authority is responsible for the Access Land within its area and we are responsible for the rest of the Access Lane within the City.

The Act has also led to the creation of the Local Access Forum and the production of the Rights Of Way Improvement Plan.

Rights of Way Improvement Plan

Under the Countryside and Rights Of Way Act 2000, every local highway authority must prepare a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) that must show:

  • the extent to which local Rights of Way meet the present and likely needs of the public
  • the opportunities provided by local Rights of Way for exercise and other forms of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the authority’s area
  • the accessibility of local Rights of Way to blind or partially sighted persons and others with mobility problems

Our ROWIP was published in November 2007 and is a 10 year plan covering the period 2007-2017. An updated ROWIP to cover the period 2023-2033 is currently being prepared.

Permanent Traffic Regulation Orders affecting Byways Open To All Traffic

You can view details of permanent Traffic Regulation Orders affecting Byways Open to All Traffic.

Contact Public Rights of Way

5th Floor
Howden House
S1 2SH

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