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What are public rights of way?

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We asked Steve Petch, local public rights of way officer in Darlington about his role, rights of way and how to use them.

Tell us about your role:

I’m responsible for maintaining, managing, improving and promoting the 350km of public rights of way – footpaths and bridleways – across the borough.

What's your typical day?

Some days I’ll be out and about inspecting footpaths to make sure they are safe. Where there are problems, I need to work with landowners to address them. I receive queries from the public, landowners, developers, colleagues and councillors on a wide range of things. These might include dealing with a planning application that affects a public footpath, property searches, proposed path diversions or issues with access to paths.

What are you hoping to achieve?

A well used, well managed network of footpaths and bridleways, accessible to as many people as possible. I want more people to know about and use the treasure on their doorstep – our amazing network of walks, our lovely countryside; and to enjoy the benefits of getting out and about and being more active. I want to make sure that landowners and path users are aware of their rights and responsibilities. That way, more people will be able to enjoy what we have on offer.

What do you have planned?

There are lots of exciting things coming up including the creation of major cycling and walking routes celebrating the environment and history of the River Tees, the River Skerne and the Stockton and Darlington Railway. I am also looking at how volunteers can get involved in monitoring the condition of local paths and bridleways and I will be updating our pages on the council’s website,, so people can find out how they can help.

By Nicky at 18 May 2018, 14:33 PM


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