Bath & North East Somerset Council have a discretionary power under section 116 of the Highways Act 1980 to apply to the Magistrates’ Court to seek to stop up public highways. A magistrate can authorise the stopping up of public highway if it is deemed to be ‘unnecessary’ for public use. Alternatively, if publically maintainable highway needs to be stopped up to allow for development then an application can be made to the Secretry of State for the stopping up of the highway.
When a Magistrates' court order is made, this terminates the highway rights and frees the land from Highway Authority control; control over the land will therefore revert to the freehold or leasehold owner of the subsoil.
The Authority has produced a 'Highways Stopping Up Pack' for any member of the public seeking to have a section of public highway stopped up. The pack includes Guidance Notes which are intended to provide a background to the process, a guide on how to complete the necessary form, the forms themselves and information on the costs involved. The Highways Stopping Up Pack is available by clicking on the link on the right hand side of this page.
It should be noted that no authority for the stopping up of a highway is conferred unless and until it has been stopped up by a Magistrate. Any preliminary obstruction of, or interference with, the highway concerned may not only be an offence, but may make it impossible to proceed with the making of an order.
It may be advisable for interested parties to take independent legal advice regarding the stopping up of highways, land ownership and other related issues. Prospective applicants are also advised to contact the Council before submitting a formal application to gauge the likelihood of success.