Footpaths and Rights of Way

Survey of Public Rights of Way in South Lopham Parish

The Parish Council has recently conducted a survey of all the public rights of way in the village as the number of complaints about the poor state of our paths has been increasing in recent months. The survey has highlighted the poor condition of many of the paths, some of which are impassable, while others are well kept and easy to access.

Landowners have a statutory duty to ensure that any public path on their land is accessible and the NFU provide advice on how best to maintain these rights of way.

National Farmers Union (NFU) Advice

  • All field edge PROWs should be at least 1.5m wide and free from obstruction.
  • All cross field PROWs should be at least 1.0m wide and free from obstruction.
  • Where crops such as maize or oil seed rape are sown alongside a cross field path, it is necessary to leave a strip 1.8m wide to maintain public access.
  • If a cross field path is disturbed for cultivation, the path should be re-instated within 14 days.
  • Maintenance of gates and stiles is the responsibility of the land owner.
  • NCC Rangers can be asked by the parish council to install finger posts at each end of a PROW where it meets the public highway.
  • NCC is responsible for maintaining ditch and river crossings if they existed when the path was first recorded.
  • Parish councils should aim to work with local landowners, explaining their public rights of way responsibilities and setting out what needs to done to resolve the issue.
  • Where issues cannot be resolved at a local level, NCC Highways should be contacted to pursue the matter.

At the September council meeting it was agreed to publish the results of the footpath survey on the parish website and to write to as many landowners as possible, particularly where paths are over grown and poorly maintained, to actively encourage landowners to address any issues. We have also committed to ensuring that any missing or broken finger-posts will be replaced and Norfolk County Council have been contacted to implement this work.

A copy of the survey results, PROW reference map and sample letter that we are sending to landowners are available (PDF format).

Any specific issues relating to the accessibility and maintenance of Public Rights of Way in South Lopham Parish can be reported to the Parish Council or directly to the Rights of Way team at Norfolk County Council (further general information about PROW is also available on the NCC website).