Anyone can apply for a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) and there’s no charge for doing so. Applications should be made to the surveying authority for the area (the county council or unitary authority). Since there are no definitive maps for inner London boroughs, DMMOs can’t currently be made for inner London rights of way.
To apply for a DMMO you must:
Submit the following documentation to the relevant surveying authority:
Serve on every landowner or occupier affected by the application a notice telling them that you’ve made the application.
Finding out who owns the land can be difficult. One way of doing it is by carrying out a search with Land Registry, but be aware that not all land is registered – particularly in rural areas.
If you can't serve a notice of application because you don't know who to serve it on, you can ask the surveying authority to authorise the placing of the notice on the land itself, usually on a fence or post where it can be seen easily.
Once a surveying authority has received a DMMO application and a certificate of service of notice, it has a duty to investigate the matters in the application.
It must consult other councils in the area (the district council if there is one, and the parish or community council) and decide whether on the basis of the evidence it can be 'reasonably alleged' that a right of way subsists over the claimed route. If it does then an order should be made.
A person applying for an order – the applicant – has a right of appeal to the Secretary of State at Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) or, in Wales, to the Welsh Government, if the surveying authority refuses to make the order, and the Secretary of State or Welsh Government can direct the authority to make an order.
The making of the order isn’t the end of the process. The DMMO has to be advertised and anyone can object to what the order proposes to do. If no objections are received then the order can be confirmed and the path will be shown on the definitive map.
If objections are made then the order has to be determined by an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State or Welsh Government. Only if the inspector then decides, on the balance of probabilities, that the existence of the path has been shown, is the order confirmed, and the definitive map amended to show the path.
We've created a DMMO flow chart to explain the process from start to finish. For more information on claiming a path and definitive maps see Natural England’s A guide to definitive maps and changes to public rights of way and our book Rights of Way: a guide to law and practice.