Public rights of way and access to land

When your land is part of your livelihood, issues with public rights of way and access to land are more than a nuisance. You may find yourself having to challenge calls to create a right of way on your land or maybe you are a developer wanting to divert public access from land to make your plans feasible. You should be confident that your land is safe from any misuse or damage, and we can help you protect it with specialist guidance in this highly complex area of law.

Key Contacts

Russell Reeves

Russell Reeves



Whether you are a farmer, landowner or developer, you can face challenges from the public or authorities about entry to your land. You might not even realise you’ve bought yourself into an existing dispute. With access groups, village green claims and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 increasing pressure on landowners, expert and thorough advice is more important than ever.

Protecting your land takes a thorough approach as you need to consider a number of scenarios. Our experts will take this painstaking research out of your hands, including enquiries to the local authority and Definitive Map and Statement checks. By visiting the site and working with you to understand your situation and objectives, we will help you put measures in place to prevent future issues.

If you are already tackling an issue, you can rely on us to work towards achieving your objectives. We will represent you at every stage, from application through to committee and public enquiry, which can alleviate much of the stress you face during dispute resolution.

You can rest assured that our team has a deep understanding of agricultural land issues and knows how to safeguard your business objectives. We act as the National Farmers Union panel solicitors for more counties than any other law firm in the country, and we are the sole legal contributor to the Farmers Weekly Business Clinic.


Our Agriculture Team has been involved in a number of high-profile cases in this area. Highlights include:

  • representing a landowner/objector at a five-day Public Inquiry in a footpath application
  • acting for a landowner/applicant in an application for a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) to correct an anomaly between a Definitive Map and Statement
  • advising a developer on the extinguishment/diversion of an existing footpath

  • instructing a landowner on an application to install gates across a public right of way
  • advising a number of landowners and estates on the implications of coastal access
  • guiding a trust on steps to prevent the establishment of village green rights or public rights of way across trust land


  • advice and prevention – avoiding claims to rights of way across land
  • advice on, and objections to, village green applications
  • applications for and objections to: Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs) and Diversions, creation and extinguishment
  • applications for the installation of stiles, gates and barriers
  • coastal access, including advice on ‘spreading room’
  • easements
  • rights of way by prescription
  • restricted byways

  • disputes over the true width of a public right of way
  • disputes surrounding public rights of way and highways – footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic (BOATs)
  • landowner deposits under the Highways Act 1980 and the Commons Act 2006 in respect of public rights of way and ‘village greens’
  • obstructions and enforcement
  • implied right of access and permissive right of way
  • right to roam legislation


I would like to thank you for your excellent work – everything was brilliantly set out. I have enjoyed the whole Thrings experience!

Mr W Somerset