North Norfolk has two newly recognised very useful paths on the Definitive Map of public rights of way that have come about by dedication by their landowners. One is now a restricted byway that runs between Sustead and Bessingham passing Thurgarton Old Hall and the southeast end of Sustead FP3. The other is now a bridleway called Coopers Lane on the OS map in Gresham.
The former came about after two local people started collecting evidence from local users because of a change of landowner, and seeking advice from the Ramblers and receiving some documentary evidence from us.
The second came about after local residents heard that last year the owner made a deposit with the County Council under the Highways Act 1980 section 31(6) of a map of his land about Gresham, Aylmerton and East Beckham (NCC ref: D14-12) and a declaration that there were no more than the already recognised rights of way. The local residents must have protested to him and Mr Clifton-Brown MP is to be congratulated on deciding to dedicate this enclosed path.
These dedications under the Highways Act 1980 section 25 are arranged by the County Council free of charge (at the moment) to either claimants or landowners. Faced with solid evidence, they are a way of the landowner retaining some control of the present situation as, if say new gates have been constructed, they are part the package and nobody can object.
Higher rights (say restricted byway over bridleway) might still be claimed but it would have to be a separate claim for a modification order upgrading the status of a recognised path and it may not get much user evidence now, and perhaps have to rely on a single historical document.
Ian Mitchell, the Norfolk Area Footpath Co-ordinator.