Granting Rights of Way over Council Land

Helen Lisney, Legal Officer

by Helen Lisney, Legal Officer

Often Council’s will be asked to grant rights of way over their land.   Below are the two main ways of granting such rights and the implications for each of them.


An easement is a right benefitting a defined area of land.    An easement of right of way is a permanent right over the servient land for the benefit of the dominant land.

Once an easement is granted it binds both parcels of land.

Any request for an easement over Council land should be considered carefully as it has the potential to sterilise any future use of the land.

A new easement must be granted by deed and must be registered at the land registry against both parcels of land.

An easement can affect the value of both parcels of land and will need to be assessed by a valuer to calculate the value of the easement.  This will need to be paid by the person obtaining the benefit.

The easement can also contain a requirement that the dominant owner, and any successor in title pays a fair proportion of the costs incurred by the servient owner for the maintenance of the accessway.


A licence can grant a temporary right of way over land. This should be used where you are happy for a temporary use but want to protect any future development potential of the land over which it is granted. It does not confer any interest in the land.

If it becomes apparent that any person is crossing council land to access other land it is a good idea to offer a licence.  This would protect the land from any prescriptive rights of easement being granted.

A licence will specify the purpose for which it is granted (e.g. to obtain rear access to a defined property) and can be determined by either party on notice.   This will be personal to the grantee and cannot be assigned.

Usually, an annual fee will be paid for a licence.

If you need advice on any aspects relating to rights of way over Council land, then feel free to get in touch with us at