Rights of way improvement plan 2020 to 2030

Last updated: 24 January 2022
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Rights of way network condition and asset management

Network assets

Buckinghamshire Council Public Rights of Way Network Assets

Network Assets Maintained by Buckinghamshire Council in 2019
Asset Quantity
Finger Arms 6,908
Signposts 4,806
Waymark Posts 3,217
Bridges 2,357
Steps 242

Network Assets Maintained by Buckinghamshire Council in 2019

Annual survey

An annual survey of 5% of the network will be carried out to assess whether the network is in good condition and is ‘easy to use’. These paths will be chosen at random.

The percentage of the network which is ‘easy to use’ has fallen since the first ROWIP and is on a downward trend.

This is partly due to reduced resources to carry out works on the network such as vegetation clearance and bridge and surface repairs.

Line graph

Year Percentage of paths that are easy to use
2008 80.1
2009 86.5
2010 80.4
2011 81.2
2012 80.9
2013 80.1
2014 78.7
2015 63.8
2016 66
2017 76
2018 74

There are many structures on public rights of way, including bridges and steps. The value of these have not been accurately calculated but is estimated to be upwards of £12 million. This does not include high value bridges and surfaces.

The council will seek to improve its knowledge about assets on the rights of way network and their condition. The aim will be to work towards an asset management system to understand what is needed to keep the network in good condition.

Management matrix

A problem management matrix was developed for the first ROWIP to prioritise reported rights of way issues. This provides the public with an estimate of the time in which the issue they have reported will be resolved. It also helps the council to monitor performance.

The matrix ranks problems by severity, using four categories. Problems which pose a danger are graded the highest. It also ranks path types by their importance, using three categories. Combining these produces a matrix that sets target times for addressing problems.

On average, around 70% - 75% of issues are resolved within the target time.

The matrix has proved to be useful for both the Rights of Way Service and members of the public and a matrix approach will continue to be used. However, the review of Buckinghamshire’s priority needs and the resources available have made it clear that the matrix needs to be updated. This will make sure that the Rights of Way Service continues to address those issues which are the highest priority first and that enough resources are allocated to meet the highest priorities.

Categories of path

The rights of way walking network is categorised into three types of path:

Category 1 paths

These include:

  • the Thames Path
  • the Ridgeway National Trails
  • 37 Council promoted routes
  • canal towpaths
  • paths known to have high-volume usage

Category 2 paths

These include:

  • health walk routes
  • promoted parish routes
  • routes within 0.5km of a settlement boundary
  • other routes within the Chilterns AONB

Category 3 paths

These include the remainder of the network.

Categories of severity

In the Rights of Way Management Matrix, the issues are split into 4 Categories of severity:

Category A: high severity

The problem is an immediate or potential danger or nuisance to the public requiring priority action. For example:

  • hung up tree or branch
  • potentially dangerous structure
  • fallen tree completely blocking path or partially blocking bridleway
  • dangerous animal
  • aggressive or intimidating landowner
  • shooting near to or across the path

Category B: medium severity

Ploughing/cropping and maintenance items. For example:

  • path obstructed due to undergrowth or overgrowth
  • missing signpost
  • replacement signpost or waymarking at roadside
  • routine structure repair or replacement
  • disturbance of surface of a path
  • path obstructed due to growing crop

Category C: medium severity

Other maintenance and enforcement items. For example:

  • complete obstruction of path
  • new or recent erection of fence across path
  • new or recent encroachment
  • new or recent unauthorised structure on path
  • electric fence or barbed wire adjacent to path (that is uninsulated or not signed)

Category D: low severity

Issues that have a minor impact on access. For example:

  • path being used by public not on definitive line
  • horses on footpaths not causing damage
  • cycling on footpaths not causing damage
  • surface out of repair (non-specific danger)
  • requests for dog access
  • fallen tree on path where public are deviating around
  • path diversions (except where formal applications submitted)


This table sets out the timescales in which we aim to deal with rights of way issues.

Timescales for dealing with Rights of Way issues by path category and problem severity
Problem severity Category 1 paths Category 2 paths Category 3 paths

A: High

Within 5 working days

Within 10 working days

Within 15 working days

B: Medium Priority enforcement

Within 3 months

Within 4 months

Within 6 months

C: Medium Other enforcement

Within 3 months

Within 5 months

Within 6 months

D: Low

Within 3 months

Within 6 months

Within 12 months

Changes to the matrix

The changes to the matrix that are to be explored include:

  • reducing the number of promoted routes in category 1 to the most popular routes. This will mean that maintenance and enforcement response times for this category are more realistic. It will also ensure these routes are kept in good condition.
  • expanding the catchment area from 0.5km to 1km for paths close to the urban boundary. These paths are important to many users.
  • simply Walk (Buckinghamshire’s health walking scheme), has been far more successful than was envisaged when the matrix was created. The walks now use many paths, of which there is no record. Maintenance of paths to support Simply Walk will remain a priority, but how this is achieved will be reviewed.

The review of the matrix will be transparent and will involve the Local Access Forum. The revised matrix will be made available on the council’s website.