Coronavirus and public rights of way

Blackburn with Darwen has more than 500 kilometres of rights of way criss-crossing the borough, giving access to the countryside via footpaths, bridleways, trailways and cycleways.

They are particularly busy with residents going out to exercise under the current Coronavirus restrictions.

To keep all of our resident’s safe, we have shared updated guidance.

We ask that you please take 5 minutes to read it.

Landowners, as a council, we oversee the public rights of way network in-line with national government legislation and guidance and at present there is no advice or requirement for the public rights of way network to be closed or restricted in any way.

You can find more information below.

This is the worst public crisis for a generation and government guidelines are being reviewed daily.

For the very latest updates, check back to theshuttle.org or follow the Council’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Covid-19 – information for landowners and property owners

People living and working in close proximity to public rights of way are reminded that the public have a legal right to use a public right of way and that they should not block or obstruct paths.

Where residents living near public rights of way have concerns, then they should take precautions to ensure social distancing from people on the path.

We also recommend regularly cleaning any gate latches or other surfaces on any paths across the property.

If suitable, you are entitled to install a permissive path through which you can invite residents to use as an alternative route.

But, the definitive alignment of the public right of way must remain open and available at all times and any permissive path is arranged under your own liabilities and insurance and must have agreement from all landowners.

You would be advised to waymark any permissive path as such and the Public Rights of Way Team can provide further advice on this.

You may also wish to inform the public using the public right of way of their responsibilities by displaying an appropriate notice.

A Council template version is available here.

This should not discourage use, but alert users to their proximity to homes and working environments and work as a reminder to use appropriate and reasonable caution in terms of social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Public rights of way provide an opportunity for people to take exercise in their local area and get some fresh air in these difficult times.

However, people should not be making special journeys to access them, and should not congregate on public rights of way.

If there is a particular problem with large numbers of people congregating on a right of way then the Police should be informed who have powers to disperse such groups.