Dorset Council - Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2022-2032

Dorset residents, landowners and visitors are being asked for their views and ideas to help shape the next Dorset Rights of Way Improvement Plan.

The Dorset Rights of Way Improvement Plan is the prime means for Dorset council, as the Local Highway Authority, to identify and prioritise actions to develop and improve the network of Dorset’s footpaths, bridleways, byways, and wider access routes.

Over the past 18 months, more Dorset residents than ever have found that getting outdoors and into the fresh air comforting, restorative and revitalising. To do this, many have used Dorset Public Rights of Way, footpaths, bridleways and byways to walk, ride, cycle, off-road and horse carriage drive to explore our locality. Some have perhaps discovered paths and places they haven’t visited before, immersing themselves in Dorset’s stunning landscapes, rich heritage, and fascinating natural world.

The Dorset Rights of Way Improvement Plan consultation – which includes online maps – will help the Council understand the key issues that need to be addressed, and let people submit location-specific concerns and project ideas to help improve Dorset’s public rights of way.

The survey will allow respondents to: –

  • Highlight a “missing link” where a new path would join up the network.
  • Identify a strategic route linking communities that could be shared by walkers, equestrians & cyclists
  • Explore the possibility of creating a safe off-road route where walkers, equestrians and cyclists currently must use the road
  • Pinpoint good locations to improve a path’s surface, replace stiles with gates and generally indicate where small measures can potentially make a big impact
  • Suggest areas where better signage would be useful
  • Raise concerns and how they might be addressed
  • Reveal historic details such as old stiles and river crossings that need protecting
  • Let the council know how to work together on ideas and initiatives.

While the Council may not be able to accommodate all the ideas and projects in the prioritised delivery plans, all feedback will be taken into consideration.

Councillor Noc Lacey-Clarke, Cabinet Lead Member for Environment, Travel and Harbours at Dorset Council, said:

Please fill in the questionnaire and online maps here by midnight 31 October.

Using public rights of way – the green highways – enables people to get outside and truly explore Dorset’s villages, towns and wider countryside. The benefits are huge where an improved path network can provide car-free walking riding and cycling routes for all ages and abilities at a “community pace” for local journeys; to get out, meet and socialise with local people; opportunities to step out from your doorstep and keep active, relax and unwind; a means to take time to explore and notice the details that we often overlook. Our paths help us all to experience Dorset’s rich and varied natural and historic heritage. Taking part in this survey is a real opportunity for Dorset people to let us know what they feel works and what needs to be done to improve the way our residents and visitors can enjoy walking, cycling and horse-riding whilst taking care to protect the very landscapes these paths take them through.

After collating and reviewing the feedback from the consultation, Dorset Council officers will draft a new Rights of Way Improvement Plan early next year. This plan will be publicly consulted on in the Spring, with the final version published and presented to Cabinet for approval in Summer 2022.

Deadline for completion is 31 October