The footpath law in the UK should be reviewed to protect the rights of privacy and security of homeowners where a footpath goes through their home/garden/drive.  

Why is this idea important?

The network of footpaths have increasingly become more of a leisure activity without consideration of the impact this is having on those who live in the community.   The footpath law should be changed to take into account homeowners that are now affected.   Footpath users show little respect for private homes and intrude into the life of those who live in these homes.   Where there are existing footpaths closeby that do not pass through homes but take users to the same destination these alternative footpath routes should be used and the ones causing intrusion closed.   The 'rights' seem to be with the footpath user, not with the owner of the property.   Walkers have been found wandering around our house, our garden, staring into our lounge and dogs are left to roam unleashed.   Children cannot be left alone in the garden where strangers can be found wandering at any time.   All this in spite of the footpath being well marked.  

38 Replies to “Footpath closure where footpath goes through home/garden/drive.”

  1. I totally agree. We have a footpath running alongside our house and down our yard. I have now been told to remove our front gate as the walkers are too frail to open a gate. We have had things stolen, one horse beaten, and I have had to give up breeding sheep after 30 years as the walkers will not close gates or respect property. My council tax is now being wasted by a woman who tells me she walks footpaths regularly to make sure they are Ok for walkers. I thought our councils were short of money. All the rights are with the ‘users’.

    1. That’s now nine years ago? I presume you are still struggling and things have become far worse? My battle is seven years old and I don’t even have a public footpath. Just a garden being claimed!!!! This archaic system just HAS to STOP!!!

      1. The delay in the implementation of The Deregulation act has left people powerless to seek a diversion if the council choose not to accept it.
        The current Covid 19 situation should further highlight why it is utterly and completely unacceptable that people can walk unchallenged in any number through peoples gardens when they are being asked to self isolate. The government has a duty of care for all of the community and there should simply be a minimum distance from a private dwelling that a public right of way can exist, this doesn’t seem that difficult to implement if there was a will to do so.

      2. The archaic system is no more than fraud. Council officers insist that there have been footpaths where there have never been any and the result is that anyone buying property is liable to find that they have bought a liability. We have been robbed, assaulted, had motorbikes, quadbikes and since dog muck, thoughtfully left by many walkers in plastic bags which we alone are obliged to clean up. These problems are all because there are public footpaths through our land.

  2. Footpaths are a marvellous thing but there needs to be consideration for people’s private and business life. Some of them are totally our of date leading for example to dangerous spots on motorways. Some council officials involved seem to be pro path fanatics .

  3. Rationalising the footpath network is a must. I have a footpath through my garden and actually through my dining room. When applying to close or divert the County Council are completely obstructive.Why should a homeowners privacy be invaded when there are thousands of other paths that can be used. Nobody has walked on my footpath in the forty years in which i have lived here and ramblers do not really enjoy walking through gardens. So if walkers don,t want to use a path and the householder dosn’t want it why can the Council not use an ounce of common sense and close it.

    1. Surely the footpath pre-dates the property, and so you or the previous owner chose to build in full knowledge?

  4. If the footpath runs through your garden and dining room then your house must have been built over the public right of way and prevented the public lawfully using the right of way.

    1. Technically correct but some of these “paths” actually disappeared in reality a hundred years ago? Not one person used the “footpath” across our lawn for the 15 years we’ve lived there but over the last 2-3 years there seems to have been an explosion in numbers walking.

      I think there’s a difference between what’s legally correct with RoWs and whats fair and frankly humane to homeowners. That’s why the law must be changed.

      1. we have a cul de sac footpath comming into our garden but no further it was not used for well over 20 years until we cleared the brambles rubbish etc now just one local family access it for no other reason but to provacate. at present fighting the local council.where is the common sense? Wiltshire.

    2. Yes, this is correct and in my case the plan showing a path through the corner of my house was submitted by the planning applicant 50 years ago to Nottinghamshire County Council they gave the planning permission. 50 years later they have declared their intent to knock down the house in writing. The Definitive maps are a joke and make it impossible to determine these issues. These incompetent authorities and their defective! maps ruin lives and take £10’s of thousands to defend. How these authorities conduct themselves is not fair and reasonable. Despite all the austerity they all seem to be able to find large sums of money and employ bullying tactics to make up for their own historical failings.

      1. Yes, the council put up a footpath sign opposite my garden pointing down my drive, which had the legal description as right of way for a cottage the other side of my property, they had three paths marked on a small ordinary sized garden but flanking the river, was a private wharf no one was allowed on it and was registered too. But they wanted a riverside walk and bullied it through, unable to afford to take to court.(only one man backed their claim, and said that he was stopped and gate closed on occasions) the weird thing is they have another path at the other end of our cottages going the same direction about 40ft away. The crime and trespass is weekly.

    3. There is no MUST where public rights are concerned! Just because there is a footpath does NOT mean that it is necessarily PUBLIC ( to all the kings men!). It may well be a PRIVATE footpath or only have rights for a certain group of people.

  5. The law needs to be changed. We have a “footpath” through our garden over our lawn. Doesn’t exist in any other way than as a dotted line on a map. Gives access to a field behind the house which is easily accessible from the road anyway.

    Regardless some groups of walkers prefer to seemingly go out of their way to use our garden instead. We’ve also had complaints about the standard of gate latches etc as well as a telling off from one walker for allowing our Labrador to be “not in control on a footpath” ie playing in our garden.

    It’s our garden and home for crying out loud. Some common sense please.

  6. In my experience, as a walker and as a farmer, many walkers are embarrassed to go through gardens or farmyards and would leap at the opportunity to be diverted away from these private areas. One can only hope that the Deregulation Bill if passed will make it much easier to apply for reasonable diversions, without a single objection leading to a hearing (expensive) by the House of Lords – which my Council has warned me about. I couldn’t decide whether they were being sympathetic or threatening.

    1. It was passed in 2015 and……we are still waiting for the guidelines to be confirmed for councils. My MP tells me that Brexit has delayed them being finalised because apparently the Government are unable to multi-task !! They should hang their heads in shame

  7. I have a footpath on land next to my garden and across a paddock near my house and detailed as such since the Definitive Maps were created in 1956. Walkers were walking through my garden and when I erected a gate after consulting with Nottinghamshire County Council Definitive maps team and obtaining definitive maps showing the path lines as not being down my drive, as had always been the case, all hell broke loose. Now Nottinghamshire County Council are saying that their maps are wrong, the path does come down my drive and more than that, the path on the paddock they say runs through the house and they want to knock the corner of the house down. Nottinghamshire County Council gave the planning permission for the house 50 years ago. They defined their maps 58 years ago. Having checked this information with them 20 years ago when I bought the house, how is this fair and reasonable?

  8. Without a question of a doubt the law needs to be changed and furthermore the whole area of Highways must be definitively clarified. Currently it is a legal minefield which is simply wasting public money. As current research has shown, walking is a wonderful way of keeping fit, healthy and active and as such, effort in to this area would be of great service to the British public. There are many Walkers/Ramblers associations who the Government can talk with, people who are actually knowledgeable on the subject and happy to discuss other options. I am sure the vast majority of their members do NOT want to walk through homes! There needs to be more options available to current landowners (eg. some people with wonderful gardens would be happy to have the route open to the public on certain days/times of the year, but would also like to maintain their right to privacy at other times.) That old-fashioned and swiftly disappearing thought process called Common Sense needs to be applied. Isn’t it called “getting along”? It seems that with a bit of thought, empathy and understanding, everyone could have their cake and eat it!

    1. Take a look at the House of Commons Notice of amendments given on Monday 9 June 2014

      Deregulation Bill To Highways Act 1980 Sections 119 and 118. have been amended to ensure that paths should not pass through residential property

    2. Thank God I found this site we have got a 5 acre smallholding with a row right through the middle of it there is no way of diverting it because of layout of the land with neighboring farms witch also has row s through them but the amount of anti social behaviour fires starting sheds broken into deficating stones thrown at our windows etc is driving us literally out of our minds we haven’t had a holiday in 19 years because we’re afraid to leave the property unnatended there is a council estate up the road witch causes most of the problems but council and locals doesn’t care a dam that’s all they say is we new the row was there when we bought it absolutely disgusting I’ve lost faith in this country

  9. A year and a half later and nothing has improved or changed! Councils still wasting public money on modification applications claiming new PROW’s through gardens. Intrusive footpaths represent only 0.01% of the footpath network. Changing the law on these would NOT affect general countryside Access!

  10. Please take a look at House of Commons Deregulation Bill Highways Act 1980 Sections 119/118 amendments.

  11. the posting by Tony dated 28.12.15 is unfortunately incorrect. Amendments were proposed as part of the Deregulation Bill to S118 and S119 of the Highways Act in the commons on 23.12.14 and in the Lords on 28.10.14. They were not successful though. The government is on record many times as recognising the problem and stating that they will correct it. Their solution is to provide guidance to councils. Since legislation outranks guidance its difficult to see how this can work so it seems like a classic fudge. Almost two years later the guidance is still not implemented. It may be in July 2016. The government says it will review the situation two years after implementation.

    1. Hi Roger,
      Do you know if the legislation on footpaths going through private areas and farmyards ever happen. If not was the guidance ever implemented?

  12. Do the council in anyway reimburse the people who have footpaths going across there supposed private land ? IE council tax reduction or free property maintenance especially if property is damaged through walkers such as worn grass.

  13. I have a footpath which comes from the main road (B road) up my driveway through my garden and then onto farmland – many use it – if my dogs play in the garden – the parish council contact the PROW officer to complain of obstruction, if I park my car on my drive I get complaints. There is a permissive path to council land created 15 yrs ago for the public to access a recreation area which is an ideal alternative as its safer enclosed and no less accessible but the parish council have said no because a) I shouldnt have bought the house and b) the permissive path is near the school and if it became a prow it would endanger the safety of children when I asked them about my family’s safety and security they said it was of no interest to them – manky low life individuals who have tiny power and use it to their full advantage – I am told that the guidelines mentioned in posts above will be ready for publishing in April 2018 (natural england confirmed) surely somebody can find something in the Human Rights Act which could give us a loophole? this cannot be right in 2018 – the problem I have found is thst all those who have argued and fought against it diverting also believe that the property would be worth much more in value which seems to drive them mad !

  14. I wish to express my deepest concerns for public rights of way that needlessly go through private land where a family home is sited.

    Myself, I have lost my right to be a registered Childminder and a Foster mother because I cannot promise to keep the children safe from strangers in my own garden because of a right of way.

    It’s high time these rights of way that affect the right to live a private life be extinguished, and further delay to the Deregulation Bill 2015 where rights of way are concerned raises serious questions over security and privacy of many homes like mine.

    I believe I have the common right to live a private life where the enjoyment of our small garden must be allowed without having to face unknown members of the public entering my garden who cause break-ins, thefts, vandalism and the fear of crime during the day and during the hours of darkness, it is simply unacceptable and encouraging opportunists to isolated homes.

    In the UK we have a vast amount of beautiful county walks in the “countryside”; there is simply no need to infringe family life in private gardens.

    Please lobby your MP help to speed up the reform so that in 2020, I and others like me can apply to extinguish rights of way that go through private land where a family home is sited and resume a “normal” private life..

    The Deregulation Act 2015 must be anemed immediately, and allow people like me who needlessly suffer everyday, the “right” to remove these intrusive footpaths without delay.

  15. This is absolutely correct. There are so few footpaths through private homes and gardens that such legislation would make almost no difference to the rights of walkers but a HUGE difference to those whose privacy and family life are affected by the wrong kind of walker. I walk every single day in the Kent countryside – approx 25-30 miles per week and I love it – but no way would I want to intrude on any family’s privacy or indeed the privacy of small-holdings and businesses. The wrong type of walkers walk these paths; those who are obsessed with their technical rights but have no consideration for others. The same type that go to pubs expecting to buy a small lemonade and eat their own sandwiches!! These walkers bring the majority of considerate ramblers into disrepute with their boorish, arrogant attitudes, and I for one would want to see their excuse to be so rude taken away.

  16. It is such a relief to know that others think the same – we have a footpath crossing right in front of our house, which I tried to get diverted years ago without success. My children were unable to play safely in their own garden, for fear that any stranger could walk right in.
    I have recently discovered on looking at historical OS maps, that said footpath seems to finish at the bottom of our driveway, and a new one starts (or ends) at the stile at the opposite end perimeter of the garden. Only on current maps has this been overlaid with a line of green dashes linking the two. It is as if someone in an office somewhere has joined the two together on a whim.
    L J Pritchard is right in saying these paths attract the wrong kind of walker- I have found people way off the map, round the back of the house, in the garage and even picnicking in our garden. They even have the cheek to knock and ask for directions!

  17. We have lived in our house for 40 years, and only recently found out that there is a footpath running through the garden, in our time there this footpath wherever it is has never been used, and to make matters worse this footpath only came into being in 1971, after going through objections etc since 1949. Now my daughter would like to build on the land and we are having objections from people who have never used a footpath the council couldn’t find. We are now in the process of applying to move the footpath and have been told it could take up to 18 months. It just doesn’t make sense, why people would object when 100 foot down from our house is another footpath leading to the same spot as the now definitive footpath would take them.

  18. I think it’s frankly ridiculous the number of people
    Complaining on here about theft, criminal damage, assault etc and blaming the public right of way for this! Do you
    Really think it is the law abiding ramblers that respect public rights of way they are doing this, rather than criminals who will happily add trespass to their crimes to steal? Or do you genuinely think that committing trespass will be a sufficient deterrent to the criminals?!

    These rights of way predate any of you building or owning the land – they came first, and have priority. Just because you chose to put up a fence and want privacy in your hot tub doesn’t trump my right to follow the right of way and this will never change.

    1. Glad your issue has now been resolved. Funny, i read your comment as someone renting a council flat in Trowbridge where one family’s kids keep jumping the fence onto the path running along the bottom of my garden with ugly chainlink fencing on one side and they get stuck because the gates either end of the path are no longer functional due to being unused for so long. The garden and surrounding area was also full of rubbish and brambles. I am still picking up broken bottles and razor blades because the council won’t sort it out. Seeing as the chainlink fence just serves as a child trap and both the gates are broken anyway I wonder if they will let me cut the accursed thing down.

    1. To ‘deal with it’
      Why would a man want to deliberately walk through a private garden where young children play unattended – Because they are supposed to be safe? What is the incentive?

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