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Public rights of way

What is a public right of way?

Public rights of way are minor public highways that anyone can use at any time. They can be paths or tracks which may run through the town, countryside or over private land. Slough has over 35km of public rights of way some providing well used short cuts, access to parks, schools and areas of natural beauty within and near the town including The Jubilee River.

Reporting a problem using a right of way

If you have a problem using a public right of way such as an obstruction, poor maintenance or a misleading sign, please use our report a highways issue form.

Types of rights of way

Public footpath - these can be used on foot and if necessary with pushchairs, wheel chairs or invalid carriages. Dogs must be kept under control.

Public bridleway - same rights as public footpaths, plus the right to ride a horse or bicycle.

Restricted byways - same rights as public bridleways, plus horse drawn vehicles and in some cases there will be rights to use motor vehicles if proven.

Byways open to all traffic (BOAT) - these are open to all vehicles though used mainly by foot and on horseback.

Paths not wholly within a built up area will be signposted where they leave the road and along the route there may be way markers to assist you in finding your way. Public rights of way can also be found on Ordnance Survey explorer maps (scale of 1:25,000) and on the Definitive Map and Statement held at the council offices.


The Highways Authority is usually responsible for the management and maintenance of the public rights of way network. Public rights of way should generally be maintained to a standard appropriate to their location and the public use they receive.

There may be a joint maintenance responsibility where for example a footpath is also used as a private vehicular access. In such situations the apportionment of the responsibility generally accords with the level of private versus public use of the way, and the corresponding wear and tear caused by the respective uses.

Landowners have responsibility for maintaining:

  • gates and other furniture along a path
  • cutting back overhanging vegetation that affects users of public rights of way
  • making arrangements with the Highway Authority for paths that will be affected by drainage or other engineering works to be temporarily closed or diverted.

Changes to public rights of way

Changes to rights of way can arise from applications or requests made to the council from members of the public, landowners or path users, or from the council itself.

Permanent diversion and closure

The legislation used to divert or extinguish a public path depends on the reason for requesting the change. Most changes come about through public path orders made under the Highway Act 1980. Orders to divert or extinguish paths can also be made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to allow development to take place. Before making an order the council must be satisfied that a proposal meets all of the specified criteria.

Temporary diversion and closure

Public rights of way can be temporarily diverted or closed to enable works to be carried out on site and in the interests of public safety. A legal procedure needs to be followed and the maximum period for such temporary orders is six months. Extensions of this time period will need permission from the Secretary of State. Forms are available by contacting us at

Find out more about public rights of way

Public rights of way can positively contribute towards your quality of life. Rights of way give us access to the open spaces for fresh air, recreation or relaxation, to get closer to wildlife, to enjoy the environment, to improve your health and mental well-being, walk, ride a horse or cycle.

They also form an important part of the transport network, providing a sustainable form of transport for people through cycling and walking: allowing them to access local services such as shops, health facilities, education and employment. A Rights of Way Improvement Plan was adopted by the council in 2007 with aims to encourage more walking and cycling and enjoyment of green open spaces.