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There are approximately 250 kilometres of Public Rights of Way in Dudley, ranging from countryside walks to urban walkways.

They provide both highway and leisure facilities that are protected by law. The function to protect and assert this public right, lies with the Council.

Public rights of way are quite different from private rights of way, the latter being commonly provided by private developers to give rear access to private property. Your deeds should help to determine those private rights.

Public Rights of Way, that allow any member of the public to have 24/7 access, have different classifications. Their status may be:

  • Public Footpaths - These have a right on foot

  • Public Bridleways - These have right on foot, horse or pedal cycle

  • Byways Open to all Traffic, Roads used as Public Paths and Restricted Byways. These may have restricted public vehicular rights.

Creation of a public right of way

New Public Rights of Way are added to the existing network following a successful application. The creation of all new public rights of way is discretionary, and the Council has no obligation to create new public rights of way. However

A public right of way can come into existence by :-

  • express dedication, say by the landowner or developer. In this manner, there can be little doubt to the path’s existence.

  • presumed dedication by public usage. This may occur when a clearly identified way of a highway character has been used, as of right, for a continual 20 year period. However, there are many tests to such claims that ultimately may have to be put before a Public Inquiry.

For further information about the creation of new public rights of way, please contact us using the details below.

Changes to existing public rights of way

The most common changes occur when development necessitates a closure or diversion or when it is in the interests of the landowner or the public. This can only come about by Legal Orders. The Council or a developer has no powers to stop-up or divert a way without advertising their intentions through a staged legal process. This allows for representations and objections. In the event of an outstanding objection, it must be sent to the Secretary of State, who may call a Public Inquiry.

Closure of footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways on crime grounds is now possible but this will be of last resort. The law requires properties adjoining or adjacent the highway must be affected by high levels of crime and the existence of the highway is facilitating the persistent commission of criminal offences. However, this is to be balanced against other important criteria, such as sustainability needs and the existence of a reasonably convenient alternative route.

Public right of way enforcements

As a highway authority, it is the responsibility of the Council to protect the right of highway users and this duty extends to public rights of way. The Highways Act 1980 gives the Council certain powers to deal with a range of nuisance issues, including obstruction of the highway. Allegations of obstruction will be investigated and action can be taken to request the removal of anything placed upon the highway that is deemed to present an obstruction.

In certain circumstances, such as where an obstruction presents a danger to highway users, the Council may remove the obstruction and recover costs from the owner of the item(s) removed.

Urban and rural paths in Dudley

We provide information on the urban and rural paths in Dudley. It's hoped that these routes will form part of a future transport information website complementing other initiatives such as Walk It and School Travelwise for those wishing to use a journey planning site.

You can view interactive mapping showing car-free walking, cycling and riding routes in Dudley.

Please contact us to give feedback on possible new destinations, the condition and suggested improvements to these and other parts of the highway network.

Public rights of way orders and declarations in Dudley

Public Rights of Way Orders and Declarations of the Borough of Dudley - Public Rights of Way Orders, Town and Country Planning Orders, Public Space Protection Orders (Gating), Modification Orders, Declarations under S31(5)(6) of The Highways Act 1980 and Cycle Track Orders.

Dudley rights of way improvement plan

We have published our Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) to meet the requirements of the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000. The document is a ten year strategic plan to manage and improve the public rights of way network for all users.

The Improvement Plan identifies areas requiring improvement and outlines a Strategic Themes Action Plan to deliver measures to improve the public rights of way network.

Dudley’s local public rights of way network is a transport asset, providing important links to local services, amenities and the countryside. Preservation of this network is essential in order to meet current and future needs of users and in promoting sustainable travel and encouraging increased use of the network in terms of walking, cycling, horse riding and access for disabled users.

Public consultation took place in order to collate information about the public rights of way across Dudley and its users. The data received, along with identification of local, regional and national policies and strategies has informed the production of the ROWIP.

The ROWIP will be reviewed and monitored in line with other policies to in order to ensure consistency and to maintain up to date information and progress.

Report a problem

If you have any concerns regarding a public Right of Way or would like to report a problem, please contact us using the details at the bottom of this page.

Maintenance and cleaning of a public right of way

In virtually all cases, the Highway Authority is responsible for the maintenance of the surface of a public right of way.