A public right of way is a right by which the public can pass along particular routes over land at all times. Although the land may be owned by a private individual, the public have a legal right across that land along a specific route.
Public rights of way routes can be physical paths, tracks or even unmarked ground.
There are currently 46 public rights of way across Blackpool, covering a total distance of 19.5km, including:
- Around Blackpool and Fylde College's Bispham campus
- Near to Carleton cemetery
- East of Stanley Park, towards Staining and around Marton Mere
- Within the Marton Moss area, towards the southern boundary of Blackpool
There are currently 5 diversion orders for footpaths 15, 17, 23, 28 and 38.
The existence of a right of way does not mean that there is a physical path. All potential users of the public rights of way have a responsibility to ensure their own safety in the particular circumstances, taking into account the weather conditions and nature of the terrain.
Blackpool Council and landowners are responsible for maintaining public rights of way.
Highway authority's duty
As the highway authority, Blackpool Council it responsible for ensuring that:
- Public rights of way are kept free from obstruction
- Structures are provided where appropriate and maintained in a safe and convenient condition
- Hedges and vegetation are not allowed to obstruct the public rights of way
Surfaces of some public rights of way are also the responsibility of Blackpool Council.
For more information about the Council’s responsibilities you can visit GOV.UK – local highway authority responsibilities.
Landowners are responsible for making sure people can access the public rights of way on their land. It is their responsibility to maintain any permitted gaps, gates and stiles and not to obstruct the public rights of way.
It is normally the responsibility of the adjacent landowner to:
- Keep their boundary hedges, trees, walls or fences from encroaching onto the right of way
- Reinstate the surface of the path following the ploughing a cross-field path
- Keep it free of crops
For more information about landowner’s responsibilities you can visit GOV.UK – landowner responsibilities.
It is the responsibility of users of a public right of way to assess the nature of the path for themselves and to take appropriate care to avoid injury. Public rights of ways are not maintained to the same standards as other pavements across the town.
Users should be cautious and take appropriate care when using public rights of ways where the ground may be unstable, boggy or covered by overhanging vegetation. All of these can make a path difficult to use.
Users are reminded to:
- Wear suitable clothing and footwear
- Carry water, especially in warm weather
- Know the route you are taking and carry a map if necessary
Members of the public are also responsible for keeping to the public right of way and ensuring their dogs are kept under close control, do not stray from the right of way and do not chase farm animals.
Inspections and maintenance
The highways team are responsible for the inspection and enforcement work on public rights of way. The maintenance of public rights of way is down to the landowner which will be either be the owner occupier or the highways department.
Public rights of way are inspected annually and maintenance is undertaken based on the results of inspection and on a programmed basis where the land is owned by the council. Repairs are also carried out where necessary in response to reports by members of the public. Where maintenance is required on public rights of way which are on private land, the highways department will notify the land owners to undertake any necessary work.