Although footpath matters are usually dealt with by the Local Highways Authority (typically the County Council), District Councils have been granted powers under Section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the Act”) to make Orders for the diversion or extinguishment of footpaths, bridleways or restricted byways.
The Council can only make an Order if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so to enable development to be carried out in accordance with a planning permission that has been granted. This will not be the case if the development has already been carried out. The Council must also have regard to:
- the need for an alternative highway to be provided; and
- the disadvantage or loss likely to arise to members of the public generally, or to persons whose properties adjoin or are near the existing highway, as a result of the stopping up or diversion weighted against the advantages of the proposed stopping up or diversion
A footpath or bridleway can be diverted under the Act only if the development has full planning permission.