How buyers should view access land and footpaths

“Property buyers should be aware of issues surrounding public access to land they are buying, and be fully conversant with the implications,” says Craig Fuller of Stacks Property Search.

“If you are buying a property that has extensive land included in the sale, it should be a priority at an early stage to find out if any part of it is open to the public. The most common situation is where footpaths or bridleways cross the land, but there are also occasions where you will find that members of the public have a lawful right of access over other land too (open access land). This is generally either ‘open country’ (mountain, moor, heath or down) or registered ‘common land’. There are plans afoot to create a ‘coastal margin’ that may affect landowners near the coast. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act) explains in detail, and has helpful online maps.

“Having established that some of a property’s land is open access land, you should establish two things – are you prepared to live with it, and you must of course factor in any implication it has on price, both to you on purchase, and in terms of resale.

“In our opinion, the best way of dealing with open access land is to embrace it and manage it, rather than try and hide it. Make it clear to visitors what’s expected of them, what they can and can’t do, but be welcoming and friendly. Make pathways to encourage walkers in a direction that suits you, and provide bins so you don’t have to deal with litter.

“Be clear about your responsibilities and liabilities, and check you have the correct insurance cover.

“Footpaths are easier to deal with, but are much more widespread in England. Whatever you do, don’t start closing off footpaths without permission – you’ll annoy the neighbours, the ramblers, and the authorities, and this won’t help at all!

“In the last decade there’s been a significant change in the attitude towards redirecting footpaths, but you have got to have a good reason, for instance, if the footpath goes through a working area where walkers could disrupt the activity, or the activity itself could be dangerous to the walker.

“Privacy is another reason. If you’ve got a footpath that passes within a few paces of your front door, then the authorities understand you might want to redirect. But while redirecting is a real possibility, shutting a footpath is pretty much a no-no, so you need to come up with a good alternative. That usually means having the land, or an agreement with your neighbouring landowner, to offer an alternative route.

“If you can offer an alternative route that goes over your own land, given a certain amount of time, patience, and some finance, you should be in the clear. Asking a neighbour to take on the responsibility is another matter, and money will almost certainly have to change hands. It’s largely accepted that land or property is devalued if it has a footpath running over it, and there are fairly onerous associated responsibilities – keeping the footpath open, ensuring stiles and gates meet standards, keeping hedges cut, and keeping up public liability insurance.

“Moving an intrusive footpath will potentially add value to your property. Some buyers won’t countenance a footpath anywhere on land, and one in the garden or close to the property itself is verging on blight. So the effort and costs involved in redirecting a footpath can be seen as a good investment.

“As a buyer, you should walk and inspect every inch of footpath or open access land so you know exactly what you’re taking on. Level of usage is obviously important, so check in the summer for how stamped down vegetation has become; or in winter for extent of churned up mud and footprints.

“Finally, where you feel that your property is overlooked from a footpath, consider screening to limit visibility, or a very slight diversion of route.”

Stacks Property Search & Acquisition,

Ends – 

    • For more information, jpgs and interviews, contact Amanda MacCaw, 01386 700068 / 07977 238175 /

Start your property search today

Call us on +44 (0) 1594 842880 or complete the form below

    Your Details

    Your property requirements:

    SoldThinking of movingOn the marketExchangingIn rented accommodationCash buyerIn need of helpOther

    We will never share your details with a third party. For more information about how we handle your data, please see our Privacy Policy

    How we can help you

    View our property finder services

    When making probably the most important financial decision of your life, it pays to have the right advisors at your side.

    Property Finder Service

    We search high and low, on the market and off the market, and we keep hunting until we’ve found the right property for you. Next we negotiate the best price and terms on your behalf. And then we make sure you enjoy a hassle-free move.

    Downsizing or Resizing

    Retirement or semi-retirement is an exciting stage in life. Finding the right home to live in and enjoy it to the full is important. We know that and will do all that we can to understand what you’re looking for… before starting to search. And search we will, until we find the house of your dreams.

    Moving from Abroad

    Relocating is time consuming and stressful. We regularly work with clients who live abroad. We hunt, short-list, prepare your viewings, and make the search process as easy as possible. We oversee the negotiations, manage the conveyancing, and deal with the headaches, so you can concentrate on other aspects of your move.

    Holiday Home Hunt

    A holiday home is often an interesting mix of investment and heartfelt connection. You want to use it, but you may well also be keen for others to use it too. We can advise you on what factors to consider in making your decision. And we can then find the perfect holiday home for you to enjoy.

    Investing in UK Property

    Others say, ‘location, location, location’. We say, ‘location, purpose, price, capital growth, rental returns’… the list goes on. Knowing the market is critical. Local knowledge is key. We ensure all aspects of your investment decision are addressed. Finding, analysing, negotiating, and completing… it’s what we do.

    “You showed fantastic attention to detail, anticipated all eventualities, and provided timely and practical help and guidance every step of the way.  Above all, you supported me in making my own considered decisions, and I am so grateful to you for all your help in getting me to where I am now!”

    “We firmly believe that without Rachel and her skilled negotiation we would not have secured the property.”

    “We felt they genuinely wanted to help.”

    “Stacks’ performance on this assignment has been absolutely outstanding and more than met my expectations. Her understanding of the brief and the ‘after-find’ service set a standard of professionalism that I have not met before.”

    “It is not often that one is pleased to part with money but I can truthfully say that I am on this occasion. You have earned every penny of this cheque and what is more, you have done it with great courtesy and good humour. It has been very pleasant working with you. You really did take most of the stress out of our house hunting.”

    “Encouraging me to think creatively about what could work for me.”

    “Finding a plot not yet on the market and persuading the developer to enter into an exclusive contract with me to build to my specification.

    “I was impressed by the efficient, kind and courteous service provided by Stacks”

    “Stacks were a tremendous help and we would never have found our home without them. She is a lovely person with a great sense of humour which was essential during some of our tricky negotiations

    “You gave a much-valued ‘younger’ perspective on our situation, which was a real asset”

    “We found the service extremely helpful and professional at all times”

    “I have been delighted with the service I have received from Stacks and will not hesitate to recommend Stacks in the future.”

    Subscribe to our newsletter

    Receive updates about the world of property, straight to your inbox.

    * indicates required