[Skip to content]

Your Borough Of Poole

Public Rights of Way

What is a Public Right of Way?

A public right of way is a route recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement. The routes travel throughout the conurbation. They give the public the right to pass and repass. They are split into 4 categories.

Footpath – pedestrian (including pushchairs, wheelchairs/mobility scooters);

Bridleway – pedestrian (including pushchairs, wheelchairs/mobility scooters), equestrian and cyclists. Usually not a bound surface;

Restricted byway – pedestrian (including pushchairs, wheelchairs/mobility scooters), equestrian, cyclists and horse and carriage;

Byway (open to all traffic) – all of the above and mechanically propelled vehicles.

Back to top

What are the Council’s responsibilities?

  • To assert and protect the public’s enjoyment of all their highways;

  • Prevent unlawful encroachment;

  • Prevent any unlawful obstruction;

  • Prevent stopping up paths against the public interest;

  • Keep the Definitive Map and Statement under continuous review.

Back to top

What are Your rights and responsibilities?

  • Lack of use has no effect on the legal existence of a Right of Way;

  • You must leave land to which you have no legal right of access if asked to do so by the owner or his representative;

  • A Footpath should be wide enough for two walkers to pass in comfort. A Bridleway should allow two horses to pass each other comfortably.

  • Cyclists and horse riders must not use footpaths;

  • Cyclists must give way to riders and walkers on bridleways;

  • When walking or riding in groups, please travel in single file where necessary and do not spread out beyond the width of the path.

Back to top

Users may:

  • Pass and re-pass on a Public Right of Way;

  • Stop to look at the view, take a photograph, sit down to rest and so on;

  • Take a pram, pushchair, wheelchair, but expect to encounter stiles on footpaths;

  • Take a dog, but always under close control;

  • May remove an illegal obstacle sufficiently to get past.

Back to top

Users may not:

  • Roam over land at will, deviating from the line of the Right of Way unless it is to pass an obstruction;

  • Use a vehicle on a Byway if it is not registered, taxed and insured, or to drive recklessly, carelessly or without due consideration of others;

  • Use a Right of Way for any purpose other than as a right of passage;

  • Cause any unnecessary damage when removing an illegal obstruction.   

Back to top

Rights of Way Improvement Plan

The Borough of Poole and Bournemouth Borough Council adopted the Poole and Bournemouth Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) 2008-2011 in October 2008. ROWIP runs to 2011 to integrate into the Local Transport Plan 3|. Hard copies are available in Bournemouth Central Library, downloadable from this page or on request|.

Public Consultation on the Rights of Way Improvement Plan |

Poole and Bournemouth Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2008-2011 Full Version|

Poole and Bournemouth Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2008-2011 Summary|

Back to top

The Definitive Map

Poole has a large excluded (unmapped area) it covers approximately two thirds of the Borough.

The Definitive Map records the location and status of all recorded public rights of way.  A Definitive Statement goes with the map and gives the start and end points and sometimes description of the route.

Back to top

Definitive Map duties

In 1997 the Borough of Poole achieved Unitary Status which includes being the Surveying Authority for the Borough. Duties are to:-

Maintain the Definitive Map and Statement

Investigate applications to modify the map and statement on user or document evidence

Continuously review the map by Modification Orders

Make the public aware of their right to apply to modify the map.

Back to top

Changes to the map

The Council also has powers to make creation, extinguishment or diversion orders of rights of way known as Public Path Orders.

There is a deadline of 2026 to modify the map on claims based only on historic evidence.

Claims based on use (20 years use without force, secrecy or permission) will continue.

Contact the Rights of Way Officer if you think you have evidence to add a right of way or up or downgrade a right of way status.

Back to top

Register of applications for Modification Orders

Description of Path                                       Process to date
Spur off Fp82, rear of 48 Panorama                 Order made – objections received
Road travelling in an easterly direction                   
to the beach                                                                             


The Bund. Sandbanks Car  Park                       Pre-consultation


Rear of Issacs Close to Fp33                            Received 

Back to top

Further information can be obtained from:

DEFRA – website for circular 1/09 http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/2011/06/15/pb13553-row-circular-109/

More general Rights of Way information


Natural England – Rights of Way http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/enjoying/places/rightsofway/default.aspx

Getting About

Local Government Ombudsman


Back to top