What are Landowner Deposits?
Landowners can make applications to Bath and North East Somerset Council (“the Authority”) to make deposits that help protect their land against public rights being accrued.
Under section 31 of the Highways Act 1980, a route can become a public right of way if it:
“…has been actually enjoyed by the public as of right and without interruption for a full period of 20 years…unless there is sufficient evidence that there was no intention during that period to dedicate it.”
Additionally, under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, any member of the public can apply to have land registered as a Town or Village Green (TVG) if: “…a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years” and either they continue to do so at the time of the TVG application or the TVG application is made within one year of use ceasing.
Why make a Landowner Deposit?
The Authority has a statutory duty to process claims to record public rights of way and register land as Town or Village Green. Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 allows landowners to deposit applications with the Authority which state that no additional public rights of way have been dedicated since the deposit of the application. There is no time limit for public rights of way claims but the relevant 20 year period would have to pre-date the depositing of the application. Additionally, if documentary evidence comes to light that shows that a public right of way came into existence at some time in the past, then a claim can still be made to have it recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement.
Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006 allows landowners to include sections in their application to bring an end to any period during which persons may have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land. As stated above, claims to register land as Town or Village Green must be made within one year of use ceasing.
If the landowner follows this with a declaration and renews this every 20 years, any public use of the land during the period of the declaration(s) will not count towards the 20 years necessary to establish new rights. This gives the landowner an effective way of protecting their property against new rights being accrued. Once lodged with the Authority, the application becomes a public document and is available for public inspection. Both the Country Land and Business Association and the National Farmers’ Union have promoted wide use of these applications.
Making a deposit
There is a fee of £200 for applications. Cheques should be made payable to ‘Bath and North East Somerset Council’. The Authority's Landowner Deposit Application Pack, containing notes which explain how to make a Deposit, sample forms and the applicable fees. The Authority maintains a register of all Landowner Deposits which it has received.
Notices of Landowner Deposits made within the last six months can be viewed on the PROW Legal Order Case Documents webpage
DISCLAIMER: The following information is intended for guidance only. It is not a full statement of the law. If you require more detailed information you are advised to contact a solicitor.
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