Under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 statements and declarations can be submitted to the County Council by landowners. The process enables landowners to formally acknowledge public rights of way across their land and, in doing so, create a presumption that they have no intention to dedicate any further public rights of way across that land.
A landowner may at any time, deposit a statement and plan, indicating any ways over their land that have been dedicated as public rights of way. Submissions under the 1980 Act do not protect a landowner from claims which can establish 20 years uninterrupted use prior to the date of submission, or which are based on documentary evidence. However, the deposit of a statement and plan does stop time running forward for the acquisition of public rights by usage, and constitutes an effective challenge for future claims.
The County Council is required to provide a register of deposits where scanned deposit documents can be viewed. These documents may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.
This register now also includes deposits made under section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006. These were introduced in 2013 and enable a landowner to protect land against potential claims for it to be registered as a Village Green. Entries on the web register for deposits under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 have a blue header and are labelled as Type: Highways, and entries for deposits under section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 have a green header and are labelled as Type: Village Green. You can search for both types of deposit or you can use the drop-down box ‘Type’ to select either Highways or Village Green deposits.
Hard copy statements, plans and declarations can be viewed, free of charge, by prior arrangement with the Rights of Way and Access Team at Phoenix House, Ipswich, IP1 5NP (email: DefinitiveMaps@suffolk.gov.uk or telephone: 01473 264774) or at Suffolk Archives, The Hold, 131 Fore Street, Ipswich IP4 1LN (email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01473 296666). Copies of statements, plans and declarations can be obtained from Phoenix House with a fee payable dependent on document size.
Further information about landowner deposits can be found on the “Landowner deposits under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980” pages of the Suffolk County Council website.