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Public rights of way (PROW) in Sandwell

Public rights of way (PROW) - general information

The information provided on the Public Rights Of Way section of this website, whilst given in good faith, is for information only and Sandwell Council or officers contributing to the website cannot accept liability for its accuracy in any form whatsoever.

The Public Rights Of Way (PROW) Team is responsible for the management of the PROW network in Sandwell. This includes processing statutory orders and modifications to the PROW Maps, being responsible for enforcement and the removal of obstructions, preparing the Councils Rights of Way Improvement Plan and providing assistance to the Sandwell Local Access Forum.

Purpose of Public Rights Of Way

A Public Right Of Way is a way, which the public have a right to pass and re-pass providing that the public stay on the route and do not cause a nuisance or obstruction.

The purpose of Public Rights Of Way is to protect the rights of the public to use these accesses and also to prevent their obstruction.

In 1949 County Councils and former County Boroughs in England and Wales and Surveying Authorities, were given the means to legally map PROWs in their area, classifying them as footpaths, bridleways or Roads Used as Public Paths.

The resulting Definitive Map and Statement for each area is taken as conclusive evidence that a route shown was a PROW at the relevant date. Sandwell Council (acting in its capacity as Highway Authority for its area) has a legal duty to assert and protect the rights of the public to use these accesses and also to prevent their obstruction.

Records of Public Rights Of Way

There are just over 46km of PROW recorded on Definitive Maps for the Borough. There are also over 60km of routes recorded in the former County Borough area of West Bromwich. These routes are currently recorded on a Draft Map and are at an intermediate stage of being registered as PROWs.

There are also other PROWs in Sandwell, for example those created by statutory orders and routes shown on the List of Streets Maintainable at the Public Expense.

In most situations it is not clear from the ground if an access is a PROW. To check, please contact the PROW Team.

Maintenance of Public Rights Of Way

Some, but not all, PROWs in Sandwell are maintained by the council. In exceptional cases there still may be a private maintenance liability. To check, please contact highway services.

Permanent road closures

The PROW Team secure or arrange a large proportion of the main permanent road closures in Sandwell. Please contact the PROW Team if you require advice on this issue.

Changes to the Public Rights Of Way register

The surveying authority has a duty to continuously review and update the Definitive Map and Statement so it forms an accurate record of the PROW network.

Definitive records of Public Rights Of Way can only be changed by statutory order. These orders are made by Sandwell Council as the Surveying Authority. The Surveying Authority has a duty to continuously review and update the Definitive Map and Statement so it forms an accurate record of the PROW network.

Highway Orders

These are creation, diversion and stopping up orders and are made under powers from acts of parliament. These orders provide the legal mechanism to alter the network. A separate legal process is then required to accommodate these changes into Definitive Map(s) based on the evidence that the highway order is operational.

Definitive Map Order

These orders amend the Definitive Map and Statement of PROW. This could be an order based on a change to a PROW following a Highway Order. It could also be based on evidence of a change to the PROW network such as from the creation of a new route by longstanding use and presumed dedication.

If you believe that the public's right to use an access has been challenged and you wish to claim the route as a PROW, then please contact the PROW Team for a pre-application discussion. Please note that the onus is on the applicant to prepare and submit any claim and Council officers who determine such applications must take a wholly impartial position between landholder and claimant.

Traffic Orders

Sometimes there is a need to temporarily prohibit the public use of a PROW, for example during development work for pedestrian safety. Such situations require a Temporary Traffic Order to seek the temporary closure of the route. Permanent Traffic Orders can also be made under this Act, for example to restrict a certain category of user on a route.

Enforcement of Public Rights Of Way

The Highway Authority has a legal duty to assert and protect the rights of the public to use Public Rights Of Way and also to prevent their obstruction. An unauthorised obstruction may render those liable to criminal prosecution and fines. The Council have powers to remove obstructions from PROW, for example. any lawful obstruction that is not removed may render those liable those responsible to fines under Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980.
Any work to a PROW must be authorised by the Highway Authority and requires a legal basis to take place.

Under Section 130A of the Highways Act 1980 any member of the public can serve notice on the relevant Highway Authority to remove obstructions from PROW in certain situations.

Please contact the PROW team on 0121 569 4151 if you believe a route has been obstructed.

Types of Public Rights Of Way

Footpath - A conclusive right of passage for the benefit of pedestrians only.

Bridleway - A conclusive right of passage for the benefit of pedestrians and horse riders, and possibly pedal cyclists.

Road Used as a Public Path (RUPP) - A conclusive right of passage for the benefit of pedestrians and horse riders, and possibly motor vehicles and pedal cyclists.

Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) - A right of passage provided for all classes of user, including motorised vehicles. There are no BOATs currently recorded on Sandwell's PROW registers.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 created a new category of public rights of way. This is a Restricted Byway. All RUPPs have been reclassified as Restricted Byways. Restricted Byways have right for walkers, horse riders, and for users apart from those in mechanically propelled vehicles. Pedal cyclists and horse drawn vehicles however can use Restricted Byways. Some RUPPs remain recorded on the Draft Map for West Bromwich.

Vehicle use on Public Rights Of Way

In the majority of circumstances the use of motorised vehicles on a PROW is unlawful. However, private rights of access or landownership may authorise such use in certain circumstances.