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Stewart Park

Definitive map and statement

The definitive map and statement is the legal record of public rights of way in Middlesbrough. Middlesbrough Council is the highway authority for the area covered by this map and statement, and are responsible for keeping the documents under continuous review in accordance with section 53 (2) (a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The definitive map provides conclusive evidence of the public right of way that existed at a specific date, known as 'the relevant date'. The definitive statement, which accompanies the map, provides a description of each public right of way shown on the map. The statement sometimes records the width of the path and the conditions or limitations affecting it at the relevant date. Together they form a legal document which is maintained by the council.

The definitive map and statement are conclusive evidence for the paths they show, however not all paths are shown on the definitive map. There may be other paths which have been used by the public for many years and so have acquired public rights, but which are not currently recorded on the definitive map.

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 placed a duty on every County Council in England and Wales to draw up and publish a definitive map and statement of public rights of way in their area. The first definitive map for our area was produced in the 1950s while we were part of North Riding of Yorkshire County Council (NRYCC).

North Riding of Yorkshire County Council definitive map

The process of producing a definitive map and statement was started in the early 1950s and involved three stages: draft, provisional and final definitive map. NRYCC used information from old maps as well as surveys carried out by parish councils, to work out which paths were believed to have public access and should be shown on the draft map, published about 1956.

The public and landowners were then consulted on the draft map and once all objections were resolved, a provisional map was produced in about 1961. This time consultation was with landowners only and following the resolution of objections, a definitive map was published on 28 May 1965.

Cleveland County Council definitive map

In 1974 the County of Cleveland was established, made up of all or part of ten former local authorities.

After producing a consolidated map for its area, Cleveland County Council commenced its first review in 1974, which had a relevant date of 31 December 1976. This review was not published until June 1984 following a delay due to one outstanding objection. A second review had to commence after this date, and so  was undertaken under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, with a relevant date of 31 December 1990.

A third review was carried out by Cleveland County Council between 1991 and 1995, which was a process of consolidating the map, before the county split in 1996, into the four unitary authorities that exist today. The consolidation for the Middlesbrough area map and statement had a relevant date of 17 March 1995.

The current definitive map and statement for Middlesbrough

The council undertook a review of the definitive map and statement in 2009, which was completed in 2011. In accordance with the provisions of Section 57 (3) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the council prepared a consolidated map and statement for the Borough of Middlesbrough which now had a relevant date of 1 August 2011.

As part of the consolidation of the map and statement, the council renamed and renumbered all of the public rights of way in its area. Copies of the consolidated map and statement and all relevant orders were deposited on or after the 18th August 2011, and could be inspected free of charge.

The rights of way officer, part of the Highways and Transportation department, is responsible for keeping, updating and managing the definitive map and statement.

The definitive map and statement and recent legal orders which affect the definitive map are open to public inspection during normal office hours (9:30am to 4:30pm). If you wish to view the maps please make an appointment with the public rights of way officer on 01642 728153.

You can also see where the rights of way in Middlesbrough are on our 'Walking Map'. Please note, the information shown is for guidance only and does not replace Ordnance Survey maps. It should not be relied on for determining the position or alignment of any public right of way.

Please also note that just because a path isn't shown on this map does not mean that a right of way doesn't exist. There may be paths which have been used by the public for many years and so have acquired public rights, but are not recorded on the definitive map. If you'd like to know more details about the alignment of a particular right of way please contact the public rights of way officer on 01642 728153.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, any person believing details contained within the definitive map or statement to be incorrect may apply for a definitive map modification order (DMMO), which, if made and confirmed, will amend the map and statement to ensure it is a correct record of the public rights of way.

The grounds to apply for a definitive map modification order (DMMO) are as follows:

  • A right of way exists but is not shown on the definitive map and statement
  • A right of way shown on the definitive map and statement with a particular status ought to be shown with a different status
  • A right of way shown on the definitive map and statement does not exist and ought to be removed
  • Any other particulars contained on the definitive map and statement need modification (eg the width of a right of way)

Investigations into a claimed route are concerned with whether or not public rights exist on the ground. Issues of nuisance and desirability of the land are not relevant to an application for DMMO.

Please contact the public rights of way officer for further information, or if you believe you have evidence to support an application for a DMMO (either based on historical evidence or use) and wish to make an application.

The council maintains an online register of DMMO applications.

For further information on completing and submitting an application for a DMMO, or on other applications made by the public, please contact:

Public Rights of Way Officer
Phone: 01642 728153
Emailrightsofway@middlesbrough.gov.uk.

Any evidence presented as part of a DMMO or which the council discovers itself must be fully considered. Evidence can come from either historic documents (such as old maps, enclosure awards, tithe plans, etc.), or evidence of use, or both.

User evidence must show that the route has been used by the public at large, uninterrupted and without challenge for a period of at least 20 years. Uninterrupted use by the public over a 20 year period presumes that the landowner was happy to dedicate the route.

Landowners can also submit evidence disputing an application to add or amend a public right of way, if they can show that they had no intention to dedicate the route as a public right of way. This could be through:

  • Challenging or stopping people using the route, either verbally or physically, eg locking gates
  • Clearly displaying notices saying that the route is not a public right of way
  • Completing and depositing with the council a Section 31(6) declaration.

A DMMO can take many months to resolve, due to the large amount of research and public consultation involved, and applications are therefore prioritised based on the level of evidence provided in support of the claim.

The Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 introduced a compulsory cut off date for public rights to be permanently extinguished along ways that existed before 1 January 1949, if they are not recorded on the definitive map and statement by 1 January 2026. In line with this statutory duty a comprehensive review of the map began in 2013, with research being undertaken to clarify the status of all unrecorded ways in the town, with the intention of legally recording and protecting them on the map.