A public right of way can have a dramatic impact on the value of a property, sometimes making it unsaleable. However if you have fallen in love with a house and are willing to ask questions and do some research, then it might not be as bad as you think. We’ve set out some pointers below.
Is the path on the correct alignment? You might be surprised to know that some property owners have made changes to public rights of way without going through the formal diversion process. It will be the line on the map that will be enforced, not an alternative.
Look out for signs which show where the path runs
Are there stiles or gates on the route? You will need to be satisfied that these are “lawful limitations” and are recorded by the highway authority otherwise they are likely to be obstructions and you can be forced to remove them. You can only get permission for a gate that keeps livestock in or out of your property. The security of your pets or children is not a basis upon which an authority can permit you to have a gate, and a stile will rarely be authorised as a new structure.
An authorised gate may require special latches
Is the path part of a promoted route? You will need to ask or check on the Ordnance Survey’s published leisure maps where promoted routes are shown with diamonds.
Is the path well used? Be sceptical when the seller says that they have never seen anyone use the path. Even if that is the case, that does not mean that it will not be used in the future.
Is the path fenced off? The path might have been fenced off to stop the public and dogs straying, but any fencing must not obstruct the legal line and width of the path and there are rules about the fence height. If in doubt, check with the highway authority.
This footpath has been fenced on both sides across a paddock – but it is too narrow
Can you lessen the impact of the path on the property? You may be able to divert the path away from the house or out of the garden or away from some change of use of the land if this improves matters for you. Diversions are not straight forward but it is always worth investigating. We recommend taking specialist advice. And do bear in mind that diversions can take time to achieve.
The footpath gave a great view into the garden of this house – it has now been diverted.
We are standing on a public path – you can see into the windows of this house for sale.
It might be a matter of better management of the path. Proper signs can help and a fence or hedging may be a good way to provide the privacy you need. Bear in mind that if you plant a hedge it will grow sideways as well as up! You will need to cut back side growth if it goes across the path.
Some of our clients have been able to benefit from diverting paths to improve their privacy and security. As one noted to us “it’s just good land management practice to look after and enhance your property if you have the opportunity to do so.”
OUR KEY TIP!
Arrange to view the Definitive Map and Statement.
The Definitive Map and Statement is the legal record of the alignment, status and other details about the path and it is this information which the highways authority will rely upon. You will usually find how to see these documents through the “rights of way” pages on your county or unitary council’s website.
You can always contact us for advice – we can often give a preliminary view without charge and if nothing else, point you in the right direction. It costs nothing to ask us!
Contact Michael Wood by email firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call on 07796 958572
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