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 A query on the Blue Book
 Regarding the stopping up of lost ways in 2026

  by C B

Update at August 2006. The fourth edition of the Blue Book is now published. There have been some changes in this section but it still talks about "alone on documentary evidence".

Blue Book cover

The CROW Act 2000 stops-up, on 1st January 2026, most paths that had been paths before 1949 and had not got put on the definitive map by 2026.

The Blue Book at page 130 last para seems to say that even if this stopping up has taken place, you can use some or all of the years prior to the stopping up for a section 31 claim, that is a claim based on use of the path by the public for twenty years. This, if true, would mean that it is not quite so important to record paths that are missing from the official definitive map but actually walked daily by people: many urban alleyways, some green lanes.

But I question whether it is true. It sounds a bit like saying that after a path is lawfully stopped up under HA80 s116 (in the magistrates' courts) or under the Town & Country Planning Act process, then a claim [HA80 s31] based on 20 years use prior to that stopping up could quickly open it up again. The Blue Book says the relevant date (when status is called into question) is the statutory stopping up date. The Blue Book authors are remarkably reliable and I may well have missed something, but this particular issue, whether right or wrong, is treated a trifle inconsistently in the book. At page 130 para 2 it says a successful post-2026 claim can't be made if the claim is based alone on documentary evidence pre-1949. But on page 131 para 2 the words 'on documentary evidence alone' have stretched to appear to be saying 'where...documentary evidence....exists', no mention of alone here or how much or little documentary evidence may be needed to bar a claim. And I see no reference to either 'alone' or 'with user evidence' in the CROW Act.

The Act just stops up the path. We would be wise to assume that will kill all prior claims and get on with making the claims and getting them on the map before the cut-off date.
But, as usual, people's views are sought on all these things

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amended 20041130