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Deposits under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980

The Highways Act 1980, under Section 31(6) provides protection for landowners against the establishment of Public Rights of Way and Village Greens, via The Commons Act 2006.

The provisions require the landowner to deposit a map and statement with the Council, followed by a declaration showing the rights of way they acknowledge over their land. The landowner then submits further declarations every 20 years to the same effect. However public rights of way can still come into existence if it can be shown that there has been at least 20 years uninterrupted use by the public, without force, secrecy or permission. This is known as deemed dedication.  A village green can also come into existence if local people have used an area for sports and leisure pursuits, without force, secrecy or permission for a period of at least 20 years.

Deposits are recommended to protect the landowner's interest and provide a better understanding for users as to which paths are public rights of way and which are informal paths the landowner allows use of.

The benefits to the landowner include:-

  • submitting a deposit gives a fixed point in time, after which no unacknowledged rights can be claimed;
  • possible continued use of informal paths by the public without the worry for the landowner of a public right of way being established;
  • any new paths that come into existence will be protected from becoming a public right of way.

As well as depositing a Section 31(6), the landowner can prevent deemed dedication of a path/track or open space by undertaking clear actions showing they are not dedicating the land to public use. The landowner can achieve this by erecting notices, locking gates at least once a year or challenging users and recording the challenge.

The process of depositing a map and statement does not affect any public rights of way already existing or any deemed dedications that can be shown prior to the submission of the map and statement. The process does also not affect any application by the public, for a public right of way based on historical documentary evidence.

Quick guide for landowners on preparing a Section 31(6) Deposit

  1. Obtain an OS map of the area you own, to a minimum scale of 1:10,560;
  2. Check the Definitive Map and Statement to confirm what public rights of way are recorded over your land;
  3. Mark on the map the exact route of all public rights of way shown on the Definitive Map. Do not omit any public rights of way that are shown on the Definitive Map as they are by law legally in existence.
  4. A recommended optional step is to check the status of any tracks, farm roads, paths or shortcuts on your land to see if the public have used them for over 20 years and also consult with your local parish council and user groups to see whether there are any paths likely to be claimed that you may wish to recognise.
  5. Another recommended optional step is to check legal documents like enclosure awards and the list of publicly maintainable highways in case there are ways recorded there and not on the definitive map.
  6. Complete Form CA16(pdf 399KB) and submit the map(s) together with the appropriate fee(pdf 475KB) to medway council's public rights of way team.
  7. Make a note to renew the statement of truth within 20 years and resubmit the new maps if routes have been dedicated since the last submission.

Medway Council keeps a register of deposits(pdf 1MB) made under Section 31(6).  Full deposits including the map and statement can be viewed by appointment at the Highways Offices in Strood.

Recent Deposits are listed below:-

Church Commissioners for England(pdf 254KB) - Land on the Hoo Peninsula and Frindsbury(pdf 972KB)

The Rochester Bridge Trust(pdf 118KB) - Maps(pdf 916KB) for land at Main Road, Cooling, Eastwick Marshes, Decoy Hill Road, High Halstow, Rose Court Farm, West Lane, Isle of Grain and Westmoor Farm, Moor Street, Rainham

Port of London Authority(pdf 269KB) - Land at Cliffe Marshes and Allhallows Marshes(pdf 218KB)

J Clubb Ltd(pdf 255KB) - Land at Grain(pdf 437KB)

P Johnson(pdf 255KB) - Land at Lower Stoke(pdf 365KB), Land off Stoke Road(pdf 297KB) and Land at Allhallows(pdf 388KB)