Footpath diversion order guidance

The Council processes applications to divert, extinguish and stop up footpaths and bridleways to allow development to proceed under Section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Before the footpath or bridleway can be diverted under this act the development must have full planning permission.

The process takes between six and nine months from the date of receiving all the information required. This is allowing for the informal consultations, the decision report and the statutory objection period of 28 days from the date of publication of notice that an order has been made and confirmed; it does not always become operative until the new route has been certified by the Council that all works relating to the route have been provided and completed to the council’s satisfaction. Until that time the original route of the path remains highway and is protected by highway law.

Procedure

Before a footpath or bridleway can be diverted, extinguished or stopped up you must obtain full planning permission. The application form should be submitted with the following documents:

  • an extract from the Ordnance Survey map showing the existing route and proposed alterations to the bridleway/footpath at a scale of 1:1250 or 1:2500
  • a cheque for the initial payment of £1000 made payable to Somerset West and Taunton Council
  • if you are not the owner of the land, you will need to send written consent of the landowner

On receipt of the application and first stage payments the Council will examine the proposal, prepare a draft and undertake informal consultations with the relevant consultees. Any suggested amendments to the proposal or objections will be discussed with the parties concerned and the applicant.

When agreement has been reached the Order is sealed under delegated authority given to the Lead Specialist (Planning) under the Scheme of Delegation.

A notice is displayed in the local newspaper and at each end of the footpath to advise the public where to inspect the Order and that objections should be made within 28 days.

Relevant consultees are notified.

After the 28 day objection period the Council will seek to negotiate withdrawal of objections within a two month period.

An unopposed order

If at the end of the 28 day objection period no objections have been received the Council will write and advise the applicant to complete the works in respect of the proposed footpath as detailed in the Order (the course of the existing footpath should not be obstructed). Once the proposed footpath works are complete you should notify the Council to enable inspection to ensure the footpath has been constructed to a satisfactory standard and that the diversion is in place. If the development is completed we are unable to confirm the Order.

The final payment is required before the Order is confirmed and certified that the diversion is in place. Notices are again posted on the path and in the local press to this effect and relevant consultees are notified.

At this stage if anyone believes that the legal requirements may not have been complied with they may apply to the High Court within six weeks under Section 287 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to have the Order quashed.

If no application has been made to the High Court by the end of this six week period, the Order is unchangeable.

After the six week period we will advise the applicant that the Order has been certified and has come into operation.

If the Order has not been certified then there is no legal change to the path even if there is a confirmed Order.

An opposed order

If objections are received within the specified time limit and are not withdrawn within the two month negotiation period, the Order is referred to the Secretary of State who will decide the matter by holding a Public Inquiry or by appointing a person to hear the representations of the objector(s).

The Secretary of State then decides whether to confirm the Order without modifications.

The applicant is informed of any objections. Any action the Council may wish to take to resolve objections at this stage are not chargeable to the applicant.

If objections are not withdrawn, or are considered by the Secretary of State to be irrelevant, charges against the objector can be sought at the Inquiry and decided by the Secretary of State.

Public Inquiries can take several months to arrange and up to a year or more before an Order is decided, therefore it is 'best practice' to resolve any problems at an early stage of the design of the development.

Fees and charges

The applicant is required to enter into an agreement with the Council providing payment for the following:

  • the Council's administrative and legal costs of processing the Order (including VAT)
  • the advertising costs associated with the publication of statutory notices required by the legislation

Administrative costs will include notifications, posting notices on site and elsewhere, site inspections, research into the status and previous history of the path or bridleway, negotiating with applicants and other interested parties prior to the making of the Order, preparation of reports to Committee and of the relevant Orders and notices.

The agreement will provide for payments to be made by the applicant to the Council at each of the following stages of processing the Order, namely:

  • on registration of the application (£1000)
  • on the confirmation of the Order (£500)
  • on the certification of the Order

The initial fee is retained if the application is withdrawn or rejected following informal consultation and first advertisement.

Refunds

The Council will only refund a charge where:

  • we fail to confirm an unopposed Order
  • having received objections which have not been withdrawn, we fail to submit an Order to the Secretary of State for confirmation, without the agreement of the person requesting the Order
  • the Order is not confirmed by the local authority or on submission to the Secretary of State by him/her, on the grounds that it was invalidly made due to no fault of the applicant

The applicant must make a request to have the charges refunded.