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

What are public rights of way?

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

Public rights of way are quite different from private rights of way. Private rights of way are often 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.

Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan

A new Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan has been prepared following consultation with interested parties and members of the public.

This is an important document which sets out the policies for public rights of way over the next 10 years.

Urban and rural paths in Dudley

We provide information on the urban and rural paths in Dudley.

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

Please get in contact and give feedback on

  • Possible new destinations.
  • The condition of paths.
  • Suggested improvements to our paths.

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.

A public right of way can come into existence by:

  • Express dedication, for example 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.

Changes to existing public rights of way

The most common changes occur when development requires 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. We and developers have no powers to block 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 to be affected by high levels of crime and that the leading cause is the highway. Closures of this kind will be balanced against other important criteria.

Additional information

Public rights of way enforcement

As a highway authority it is our responsibility to protect the right of highway users. This duty extends to public rights of way. The Highways Act 1980 gives us certain powers to deal with a range of nuisance issues, including obstruction of the highway.

Allegations of obstruction will be investigated. Action can be taken to request the removal of anything placed upon the highway that is deemed to present an obstruction.

In certain circumstances, for example an obstruction presents a danger to highway users, we may remove the obstruction and recover costs from the owner of the item(s) removed.

Maintenance and cleaning of public rights of way

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

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.

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Traffic & Transportation
4 Ednam Road