Public rights of way and access to land

For UK farmers and landowners, the issue of public rights of way and access to land is a major concern. As trusted advisors to landed estates, farmers, growers, agri-business and other rural enterprises, we provide specialist guidance in this highly complex area of law to protect your business and personal private interests.

Key Contacts

Russell Reeves

Russell Reeves


A comprehensive approach

Growing pressure from access groups, village green claims and the passing of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 pose multiple challenges to farming communities and can impact development opportunities. Indeed, purchasers of land can unwittingly buy themselves into these disputes.

As initial local search results can be insufficient to protect against these scenarios, we always carry out site visits, which may lead to specific written enquiries to the local authority, inspection of the Definitive Map and Statement and historical research if necessary. In addition to preventative advice, we also offer robust dispute support, representing you at every stage – from application through to committee and public inquiry. To ensure you achieve the best outcome, we take time to understand your situation, develop a strong relationship and gain insight to preserve your interests effectively.

We act as the National Farmers Union panel solicitors for more counties than any other law firm in the country. And we are also the sole legal contributor to the Farmers Weekly Business Clinic, reflecting our deep understanding of agricultural land issues and knowledge of how to safeguard your business objectives.


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
  • representing 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

  • advising 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
  • advising 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’

  • 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


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