Public Rights of Way and the significance of 2026
There is an upcoming change in legislation which means that certain unrecorded rights of way in your area may shortly be lost.
You may be aware of historic tracks and ways within your parish which are perhaps no longer used on a daily basis but are considered to be part of your Parish’s history. You should know that if these ways are not currently shown on the official records of rights of way, they could be permanently closed off in 2026 by the owner of the land over which they cross. It is important therefore that these routes are protected now.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 introduced a cut-off date for adding historic paths to the Definitive Map (which is the legal record of rights of way). This means certain routes which existed before 1949 and which aren’t recorded on the Definitive Map by 1st January 2026 may be extinguished. The information within this attached gives you further information about why. It is important to note, however, that rights of way already shown on the Definitive Map are unaffected by this change and will not be extinguished as a result.
In order to protect any currently unrecorded routes, they will need to be identified and claimed before the 1 January 2026 cut-off. These unrecorded routes exist in law; many exist on the ground and are in current use, while others could provide useful additional routes and links to the existing path network.
Please follow the link below to the Gloucestershire Highways website for the procedure and forms required to apply for a Definitive Map Modification Order.