Procedure for Public Path Orders
Note: Where the local authority initiates the order, there may be no formal application but the procedure remains the same.
- Send the applicant details of the legal criteria, procedures and costs, together with any guidance issued by the highway authority.
- On receipt of the application, check and acknowledge it.
- Open a file.
- Check the application against the definitive map. If necessary consult the definitive map officer about any outstanding applications or anomalies which might affect the proposal.
- Arrange a site inspection and meeting with the applicant.
- If the applicant is not the landowner, arrange a separate meeting with the landowner.
- Confirm and clarify the details of the application.
- Carry out pre-order consultations with the relevant parish/town council or meeting and with members of the consultee list in accordance with the authority's policy. This will usually include the Ramblers' Association, the Open Spaces Society, the British Horse Society, the Byways and Bridleways Trust and, where a bridleway is concerned, the Auto-Cycle Union and the Cyclists' Touring Club, plus any other groups the authority considers to be appropriate.
- If there are matters arising from earlier consultations, try to accommodate them by negotiation. If the proposal changes substantially it will be necessary to re-consult all parties.
- Consult the utilities.
- Formally determine the application. Authorities vary as to who is authorised to make the decision. It may be delegated to an officer or to a panel or subcommittee of members. In all cases a formal decision should be made having regard to the legal criteria and any representations made during the pre-order consultations.
- If the decision is made not to make the order, advise the applicant, the landowner (if not the applicant) and the consultees. It is not necessary to advise the utilities. Go to stage 32.
- If the council decides to proceed with the order, go to stage 14.
- If the order making authority is not the highway authority, formally consult the highway authority and request a works certificate (a formal document issued by the highway authority that specifies what work the highway authority considers is necessary to make the new path in a fit condition for use by the public).
- If appropriate, ask the applicant to sign an agreement to carry out the provisions of the works certificate, to reaffirm his intention to pay the advertising costs and other expenses of the order, and to reimburse the order making authority for any compensation that may be payable (you will need to refer back to the application form).
- Draft the order, order plan and notices in accordance with the Public Path Order Regulations 1993 SI 1993/11. Also draft an accompanying explanatory statement. Check the draft order, plan, notice and the statement (get a colleague to double-check these documents). Make three engrossed copies of the order. In the event of having to submit the order to the Secretary of State, two copies are sent to PINS and the third copy is retained by the council for its records. It is important to store orders safely.
- Arrange for the notices to be posted on site and placed in a suitable local paper. Site notices should be accompanied by a plan and a copy of the explanatory statement.
- A site plan may be the order plan or a map that shows the general effect of the order. If a map is used, ensure that it is drawn in accordance with the regulations and correctly shows the effect of the order.
- Notices on site will need to be checked every seven to 10 days and replaced as necessary. An inspection sheet should be filled in detailing when the notices were checked, by whom, and when they were replaced.
- Arrange for the serving of notices, in accordance with the regulations, on the applicant, the landowner, the highway authority (if appropriate), the parish/town council/meeting, user groups, utilities, and any other affected or interested parties. The notice should be accompanied by a copy of the order and a copy of the explanatory statement.
- Arrange for a deposit copy of the order and notice to be placed for public inspection at the places designated by the authority. Deposit copies should be accompanied by the explanatory statement and a memo giving details of the dates the documents should be available for inspection and requesting that they should be returned to a nominated officer after that time. Deposit documents should be accompanied by the explanatory statement. Deposit copies should also be sent to any other local authority in the area and to the parish/town council.
- Note the closing date for objections in your diary.
- If no objections or representations are received by the closing date, the order may be confirmed. Go to stage 27.
- If any objections or representations are received, they should be acknowledged. It may be appropriate to enter into negotiation with objectors to see if they will withdraw their objections. A decision then needs to be made as to whether, in the light of the objections, the legal tests that must be considered before the order is confirmed can still be satisfied and, if so, whether the council still wishes to proceed with the order. Councils vary as to who is authorised to make this decision. It may be delegated to an officer or to a panel or subcommittee of members. In all cases, a formal decision must be made having regard to the representations and objections received. Before such decision is made it may be appropriate to enter into negotiation with objectors to see if they will withdraw their objections.
- If it is decided not to proceed with the order, advise the applicant, the landowner (if not the applicant), the consultees and any person who made a representation or objection. It is not necessary to advise the utilities, unless they are an objector. Here is a sample notice advising parties that an Order is not to be proceeded with. It is good practice to post such a notice on site and to place it in the relevant local paper and in such other places as the Council considers appropriate. Go to stage 32.
- If it is decided to proceed with the order and objections are not withdrawn it must now be submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation. The procedure for this it outlined in Procedures for Opposed Orders.
- An agreed period of (usually) three weeks is allowed for the applicant to undertake the works contained in the highway authority's works certificate. Ensure that the works have been carried out to the satisfaction of the highway authority before the order is confirmed.
- Once the new route has been laid out for public use and the order making authority and the highway authority (as appropriate) are satisfied that the necessary works have been completed, unopposed orders can be confirmed. The words should be added: 'The foregoing order is hereby confirmed' should be added after the seal on the three engrossed orders. The orders should be dated and signed by an authorised officer, whose title should be added under the signature.
- Arrange for the publication of the confirmation notice. Prepare a notice of confirmation and a plan. Check that the same local paper that was used before is still the best paper to be used for the publication of confirmation. Serve notices on all the individuals and organisations that received a notice of the making of the order. Arrange for copies of the confirmed order to be placed on deposit, in the same way as copies of the original order were deposited.
- Note the date of the end of the High Court application period in your diary. If an application is made to the High Court you will need to take legal advice. Applications are very rare and may be made only on legal or procedural grounds.
- Once the order has been confirmed, send a copy to land charges and inform them when it comes into effect. Send copies of the confirmed orders to other council departments and to the highway authority, as required. Send a copy of the order, the plan and the notice of confirmation, and any certificate that the route is fit for public use issued by the highway authority to the Ordnance Survey
Rights of Way Team
- Close the file. Sort the documents and file them. Ensure that the definitive map officer has a copy of any confirmed order, the plan and the notice. Store the engrossed copies of the orders securely (they can be stored in a deed packet and placed in the district archive or record office, for example). File all other documentation, including a photocopy of any confirmed order, making sure it is in date order and labelled correctly.