The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 placed a duty on every County Council in England and Wales to draw up and publish a Definitive Map and Statement for their area.
The Definitive Map records the position and status of Public Rights of Way while the Definitive Statement describes each Public Right of Way shown on the Definitive Map. Together they form a legal document and are maintained by the Council. The Definitive Map and Statement are conclusive evidence for the Public Rights of Way it shows. However, there may be other paths with public rights that are not shown.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 requires that the Definitive Map and Statement are continually updated to incorporate the changes that have come about through legal orders.
The Council’s Definitive Map and Statement were inherited from the previous Highway Authority, Humberside County Council, who had taken over the Map and Statement in 1974, earlier prepared by Lindsey County Council.
At that time, the Urban Area within Grimsby and Cleethorpes was formerly excluded from the survey and no Definitive Map was produced. Since then, there is now a requirement to produce a Definitive Map and Statement for such areas. This work is ongoing.
Public Rights of Way on the Definitive Map can be changed, deleted and added but the correct legal procedures must be followed. Other changes include
- recording paths on the Map where it can be shown that the route has acquired public rights
- the dedication of new routes
- emergency path closures.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 allows anyone to apply to the Council to make an order to change the Definitive Map and Statement if they believe the map is incorrect. These are called Definitive Map Modification Orders and can be made if evidence is found to show that:
- A route that should be shown isn't.
- A route that is shown shouldn’t be on the Definitive Map.
- A route is shown as having the wrong status (e.g. shown as a footpath instead of bridleway).
- A route is shown on the wrong line.
- A route should be more precisely defined (e.g. have its width recorded).
- This evidence may be historical (e.g. old maps, tithe plans, Enclosure Awards) and/or user evidence, where the public have been using the route uninterrupted for more than 20 years.
The Register of Definitive Map Modification Orders provides information on these types of applications.
If you would like to apply for a Definitive Map Modification Order, please contact the Public Rights of Way Mapping Officer using the contact details on the Public Rights of Way home page.