What is the definitive map and statement?
If a right of way is shown on the definitive map and statement, that is conclusive evidence in law that there is a public right of way as shown and that it has at least the status indicated, but without prejudice as to any question of additional public rights which may exist along it,.
By reason of small scale, thick lines and distortions in the printing process the current definitive map is not the most helpful and precise of tools, even though it is the prime legal document. It is at a scale of 1:25,000 (two and a half inches to a mile) and an extract is shown above.
Each path is numbered according to the parish in which it is situated. The 'working copy' of the definitive map will be altered if the route of a path is changed by a legal order or if new paths are claimed, created or extinguished.
The definitive map cannot be purchased but you can view it at the Rights of Way office at County Hall, Dorchester, during office hours, by appointment only. Please contact the Definitive Map Team at least two working days in advance. We are unable to accept visitors without a prior appointment.
We do have a useful computer version shown on Dorset Explorer (opens in a new window) . However, this is not the legal document and is known frequently to be incorrect in its small details. You can use it for rough guidance but do not rely on it without further checks. (To view the rights of way on Dorset Explorer click on 'Layers' on the left of the screen and tick the relevant boxes to make the rights of way visible.)
The definitive statement is the counterpart of the map and is intended to clarify the position and width of a path and to record any other details. We hope to improve the statement greatly by including eight figure grid references, which are more accurate.
The Definitive Map Review Officer is working on a project to consolidate the public rights of way definitive map and statement and publish a new edition on a larger scale. The project will entail historical research, field surveying, and digital mapping.
How can I get the definitive map changed?
There are two reasons to change the definitive map - because it is wrong or because the ways shown are inconvenient and you want them moved or extinguished.
Applications for definitive map and statement modification orders
Public paths shown on the definitive map are those that we know about and are therefore recorded.
Changing the definitive map by diverting a path
Due to the high number of diversion applications currently being processed, Dorset County Council operates a waiting list for new applications. It should be noted that, whilst the council has a power to process diversions, this is not a statutory duty and as such only limited resources can be allocated to it.
Changing the definitive map by removing a path
Besides the definitive map modification order process (which applies only if a path was wrongly added to the map) there are two ways of getting a path deleted from the definitive map and statement map using separate legal processes.
- North Dorset - public rights of way affected by development
If you have been granted planning permission in North Dorset to build over a right of way you will need to apply to divert the path or stop it up.
Senior Rights of Way Officer (Definitive Map)
Name: Vanessa Penny
Tel: 01305 224463
Full details for Vanessa Penny
Rights of Way Officer (Definitive Map Review)
Name: Simon Roles
Tel: 01305 224463
Full details for Simon Roles
Rights of Way Technical Officer (Definitive Map)
Name: Jane Cheeseman
Tel: 01305 221560
Full details for Jane Cheeseman