Gates and stiles

Why and where are they needed?

Gates, stiles and similar structures on paths are the means by which the public can cross fencing, hedges or walls. They are deemed to be an obstruction unless authorised as follows:

  • Recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement - deemed to be a limitation to the public rights at the time the path was dedicated for public use and accepted by the public as such. These may also come about through Modification, Creation or Diversion Orders.
  • Erected to contain animals on land in use or being brought in to use for agriculture, forestry, and the breeding or keeping of horses. Consent is given to authorise these obstructions under Highways Act 1980 S 147 for the purpose of preventing the ingress or egress of animals. This includes agricultural pest control considerations (eg rabbit fencing).

Gates and stiles belong to the farmer/owner of the land on which the structure is located.

Any gate or stile in situ and not authorised as above is an illegal obstruction no matter how accessible and when such a structure is brought to the attention of the highway authority, action will be taken to either secure its removal or, if appropriate, grant consent.

The law does not allow for the provision of gates and stiles in other circumstances, eg they are not allowed when a landowner or householder makes an application simply to secure their boundaries. In this situation, either a gap should be left in the boundary fencing or the farmer/owner may seek a diversion at their own expense.

If you are granted permission to erect a structure across a PRoW the following conditions apply:

  • You will be responsible for installing and maintaining the structure to the specified standards
  • You must not erect any other type of structure other than the one you have permission for
  • Gates on bridleways must be easy to open and close both from horseback and on foot
  • If the conditions that allowed the structure to be erected change, the structure must be removed ie cattle are no longer kept in the field
  • If any of these conditions are not met then Essex County Council may require the structure to be removed.

Make an application to erect a structure using the Consent for a Structure on a Public Path form below and send it to: 

Essex County Council
Public Rights of Way
2nd Floor
Seax House
Victoria Road South
CM1 1QH.

Once you have received permission to erect a structure

We will supply you with a technical drawing setting out the specifications for the structure that you can construct yourself.

Once the structure is built and installed a PRoW Officer will need to inspect and issue consent for the structure.