Defra has advised the stakeholder group on public rights of way that the controversial 2026 cut off date in the Crow Act will be dropped. This is very good news and more details to follow.
Sections 53 to 56 of the CRoW Act set out the process for claiming old, unclaimed historic rights of way—crucially, with a cut-off date of 1 January 2026. Any that have not been claimed by then will cease to exist for ever, although with the possibility under Section 56 of an extension by regulations to 2036
“We are writing to you today to inform you about important changes to the rights of way package of reforms. We have communicated these changes to the Stakeholder Working Group and will continue to work with them going forward.
The rights of way reforms package has been underway for many years and whilst much progress has been made for which we are grateful to the Stakeholder Working Group and others, the legislation required to implement these reform measures is not yet ready to be laid and considerable work remains to complete this work. Defra has therefore decided on a pragmatic approach to take the package forward. We have decided to progress the Right to Apply and Cost Recovery SIs only and to repeal the 2026 cut-off date. We feel that this strikes some balance across stakeholder concerns and interests, while recognising that it doesn’t deliver on all the benefits originally envisaged.
We remain committed to seeking to make improvements to rights of way processes and procedures where possible and appropriate to do so and would welcome your continued advice and support with this endeavour.”