Mapping Rights of Way, Highway, Commons and Greens

Describe your idea:

enhance fixmystreet usefulness by integrating key mapping data including Definitive Maps (for PROW), Lists of Streets, rights of way, alleys, courts, etc., not on Definitive Maps (e.g. Inner London), registered commons, common access land and greens.

What problem does it solve?:

identifying and claiming lost footpaths and other ROW in rural and urban areas; establishing/recording existing public rights of way; to provide the on-line campaigning tool to defend and prevent attempts to extinguish ROW and highway, and meeting the Jan 1st 2026 deadline of The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
refs: e-mail to Tom and Matthew Aug 11th Re: Comment on the Usability of Fixmystreet
: [mySociety:public] Suggestion for project: Common Land data
From: CountCulture
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2009 08:26:32 +0100

Type of idea: A brand new project


  1. OpenStreetMap has projects to gather UK public rights of way and other features of the UK countryside.

    Some councils have (some of) this data in electronic form already: for example, Cambridgeshire County Council has an online mapping system for rights of way.

    OpenStreetMap can’t make (direct) use of this council data because of copyright restrictions, so maybe there’s space for a MySociety project to license the council data and display it as a layer on other maps (such as Google Maps or OpenStreetMap).

    One set of data that no-one seems to systematically collect is that of “permissive” access — routes over private land where the landowner has agreed some kind of public access.

  2. I’ve had a look at a sample Cambridgeshire map – which does looas if it includes some permissive paths. It is a little crude – and doesn’t use the OS standardised presentation of PROW. I guess it must be baed on their Definitive Map but clearly it isn’t the same as the Definitive Map (at least, it odesn’t appear to be). The Definitive Map is key in law, as it is evidence that there is indeed a public right of way.

    The List of Streets (i.e. adopted highway) would be another layer – but is another form of right of way of course. Highways may not be adopted, but there may well still be some established right of way.

    OpenStreetMap ……. only dealing with England and Wales ..
    and again is not drawn from the Definitive Map(s) (which in any case don’t exist, as they were optional, for metropolitan areas like Inner London). There’s also some debate / discussion over terms, definitions, etc., and also of course they cannot draw on OS data / mapping because of copyright.

    See also The Discovering Lost Ways Project (DLW) closed following a review carried out in 2007/08. The review concluded that the challenges of securing a complete and accurate ‘definitive map’ were beyond the scope of a research-focused project, and a new approach was required.

  3. I’d add also that when the Marine and Coastal Access Bill is enacted, mapping that will be as important as safeguarding existing Rights of Way, and unrecorded historic ROW (there’s an estimated 20,000 paths that could be lost, including many in towns and cities), highway, permissive paths, etc.

    See for example the current campaign (from the Rambers on facebook): There are at the moment no general rights of access or rights to walk along the coast and on beaches in England (30 per cent of the coast is off limits to the public and access is often poor in the remaining 70 percent). The Marine and Coastal Access Bill is still working its way through its Commons stages this coming autumn, and should create a route around the coast of England once enacted. However, the Bill has been delayed and there are fears it could even be dropped.