Rights of way

We look after public rights of way throughout the city and the South Downs National Park.

Wild Park Rights of Way

Brighton & Hove City Council is responsible for the public rights of way around our city - footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic. The council will continue to be responsible for rights of way in the South Downs National Park that fall within the authority boundary.

The council has duties under the Highways Act 1980 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to make sure that all rights of way are free from obstructions or other nuisances preventing or deterring the public from using a path. This includes maintaining the definitive map, assessing claims for new rights of way, sign-posting, vegetation clearance, surface improvements and maintaining, enhancing and promoting the existing network.

All public rights of way should be open and able to be used by the public. Any issues can be reported using our online form to report a problem with a  right of way or by calling 01273 29 29 29.

Paths and green spaces access map 

Have a look at the paths and green spaces access map to plan a trip around Brighton & Hove, taking in the beautiful South Downs National Park, coastline and cityscape. 

The map includes:

  • public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways)
  • permissive paths (permissive footpaths and permissive bridleways)
  • open access land and public open spaces
  • cycle paths
  • gateway sites to the National Park from our urban fringe
  • bus stops giving access to the path network and National Park

Links to other useful maps for planning excursions:

Rights of Way Improvement Plan 

The Rights of Way Improvement Plan (2017 to 2027) has been adopted by the council. The plan sets out how the authority intends to improve provision for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and those with mobility issues over the next ten years.

The council will be working with the Brighton & Hove Local Access Forum and partners to deliver the aims and objectives set out in the plan:

Rights of way maintenance responsibilities

Signposts and waymarking


  • sign right of way junction with metalled highway
  • discretionary powers for intermediary signage at junctions

Gates and stiles

The council works to provide the least restrictive access possible, for example, replacing stiles with gaps or gates.


  • 25% of replacement costs and authorisation of all new structures

Land manager:

  • maintenance of all structure to allow free and safe passage of the public

Vegetation clearance


  • growth from surface to path

Land manager:

  • overhanging vegetation



  • maintenance of surface to standard consistent with status and use of right of way

Land manager:

  • some shared responsibility if also private access, for example, motor vehicles

The definitive map

This map shows all public rights of way in Brighton & Hove that fall into one of the following categories:

  • public footpaths are open only to walkers
  • public bridleways are open to walkers, horse-riders and pedal cyclists
  • restricted byways are open to walkers, horse-riders, and drivers or riders of non-mechanically propelled vehicles (such as horse drawn carriages and pedal cycles)
  • Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) are open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles, although they may not be maintained to the same standard as ordinary roads. In some cases these byways may have Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) on them, restricting vehicular access

Inclusion on the map is accepted in law as evidence of the existence of the right of way. Rights of way shown on other maps, such as Ordnance Survey maps, are based on the definitive map. If you are aware of any omissions or errors please check the definitive map and statement which can be viewed by contacting Cityparks on 01273 292 929.

Only the paper copy has legal status. An online version of the rights of way map is available. The information contained on the online map is regularly updated and maintained but may not be 100% accurate. It does not constitute a definitive statement as to the status of any particular highway.

If you require a more detailed plan and accurate information then you can contact the Parking Infrastructure Team on 01273 293 804 or email parking.infrastructure@brighton-hove.gov.uk. To view the definitive map and statement of rights of way please contact Cityparks on 01273 29 29 29 or email cityparks@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

Definitive Map Modification Orders

Anyone has a right to apply for the definitive map to be corrected if they believe there to be an error on the map or information missing. Please contact us for an application form if you wish to make a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO). View, print or download the council's register of Definitive Map Modification Order Applications (Excel 13KB).

Below are copies of the applications for amendment currently registered with us.

Public Path Orders

There are no current Public Path Orders in process in the Brighton & Hove Area.

If a public right of way is going to be affected by a development it can be diverted or stopped up by a Public Path Order under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. If there are no planning issues, but the landowner would like to move (divert) or delete (extinguish) a public footpath, bridleway or restricted byway on their land they can apply to the council for a public path diversion or extinguishment order under the Highways Act 1980. However, the criteria to be met are strict and, due to the public consultation element, it is often quite a lengthy process. If a public objection is received it can only proceed by referring it to The Planning Inspectorate. This may result in a public inquiry. The council can also make public path creation orders and agreements. Most of these orders are funded by the applicants.

  • Public Path Diversion Orders - under s119 of the Highways Act 1980. Before making an order the council needs to be satisfied that it is in the interests of the owner/occupier of the land and/or the public users of the path to be diverted. It also needs to be satisfied that the proposed route will not be substantially less convenient for the public to use than the existing route. Other considerations include: the effect of the diversion on public enjoyment of the route as a whole, on other land served by the existing route, and on land where the new route is proposed; the needs of agriculture and forestry; the desirability of conserving nature
  • Public Path Diversion Orders - under s257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This power is used if the council is satisfied that a path should be diverted to allow for development to be carried out in accordance with planning permission. However, planning permission alone does not automatically lead to a diversion order.  The council must take into account any disadvantages to users of the route as a result of the change
  • Public Path Extinguishment Orders - under s118 of the Highways Act 1980. Before making an order the council needs to be satisfied that the path concerned is not needed for public use. Account needs to be taken of: what the likely use of the path would be if the order was not made; the effect of the change on the land the route currently crosses; the needs of agriculture and forestry; the desirability of conserving nature. Consideration can also be made of any concurrent creation orders/agreements or diversion orders, that may provide an alternative route
  • Public Path Stopping Up Orders - under s257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This power is used if the council is satisfied that a path should be stopped up to allow for development to be carried out in accordance with planning permission. However, planning permission alone does not automatically lead to a stopping up order.  The council must take into account any disadvantages to users of the route as a result of the change
  • Public Path Creation Orders - under s26 of the Highways Act. Before making an order to create a new footpath, bridleway or restricted byway the council must be satisfied that there is a need; that it is expedient to do so with regards to increased convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public / local residents. Also the effect on the rights of those people with an interest in the effected land must be taken into consideration
  • Public Path Creation Agreements - under s25 of the Highways Act 1980. This is where the council enters an agreement with a landowner for the dedication of a new footpath, bridleway or restricted byway. The council must receive proof of land ownership before an agreement can be entered into

Protecting land from claims for Public Rights of Way - Section 31 (6) deposits

If a path is used by the public over a long period of time, it can become a public right of way (see DMMOs, above). If a landowner wants to prevent additional public rights of way being established on their land they can deposit a map and statement with us, showing recognised public rights of way that they admit exist over their land; and make a statutory declaration confirming that no new rights of way have been dedicated. This will need to be renewed every 20 years. Please contact us if you wish to make a deposit in respect of your land by emailing cityparks@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Landowners may wish to install other measures, like signs, to challenge any unauthorised public access on their land. Rights of way law is a complex area and landowners are advised to take their own independent legal advice on any issues that may affect their land.

The Section 31(6) deposits registered with Brighton & Hove City Council since 2010, under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 are detailed on this register. View, print or download the Brighton & Hove Section 31(6) Register (Excel 33KB)

Below are copies of the Statements and Declarations registered with us.

Become a Volunteer Path Warden and Adopt-a-Path

The aim of our Adopt-a-Path Scheme is to help increase people’s use and enjoyment of our public rights of way network. People who use the same paths regularly are encouraged to join the scheme. As a minimum we would encourage members to survey the route at least 4 times a year (once in every season).

If you have a regular walk or cycle / horse ride you enjoy, and want to help us to look after it, then please contact us for further information and to register: cityparks@brighton-hove.gov.uk

What you can do for the scheme

  • walk or ride the route regularly (at least 4 times a year)
  • report any problems to the council on the rights of way report form
  • help with cutting back vegetation from signs, stiles and gates (we appreciate that not everyone will want to carry out this work, but there's the opportunity for those that do)
  • promote responsible use of the path

What we will do to help

  • give a full induction on how to carry out the survey, health and safety information and survey forms
  • offer help and advice with rights of way questions
  • provide cover under our insurance policy whilst carrying out survey / basic maintenance
  • loan tools and gloves to do any clearance work

For more information take a look at the Volunteer Path Warden leaflet (PDF 545KB) 

Further information