Local Access Forum - Hampshire Countryside Access Forum

Making improvements to public access for outdoor recreation and sustainable travel

The Hampshire Countryside Access Forum (HCAF) is the statutory joint Local Access Forum with is managed under an agreement between:

  • Hampshire County Council
  • Southampton City Council
  • Portsmouth City Council

As Hampshire benefits from having two National Parks, each of these National Parks also have a Local Access Forum:

New Forest Access Forum
Local Access Forum - South Downs National Park Authority

Local Access Forum’s advise Access Authorities and others on how best to manage access to the countryside.

It is an independent statutory body with members who represent the views of recreational users, land managers and others with an interest in countryside access. The main function of this group is to look at how the public rights of way network and access land is managed and improved, forum members will also be asked to comment on broader access, transport and countryside subjects, where there is an impact to the countryside, and access to it.

It is a legal requirement for every county council, unitary council and national park authority to establish and support a Local Access Forum.

The role of the Forum

HCAF advises the County Council and other organisations on improving opportunities to enjoy Hampshire’s countryside and coast. The Forum encourages and assists access provision and gives strategic advice on issues of particular local relevance (e.g. policies for the management and maintenance of rights of way; development and delivery of the Countryside Access Plan).

The Forum is independent of any council or interest group – it comprises local members of the public with a wealth of experience in aspects of countryside recreation and rights of way. Members are volunteers, appointed to represent an interest rather than a specific organisation. They are balanced between those who use paths (walkers, horse-riders, carriage drivers, cyclists, disabled users and vehicle users), those who provide access (farmers, land managers etc) and other interests (e.g. conservation, education). It is this wide range of interests which enables the Forum to provide balanced advice.


Members are jointly appointed by Hampshire County Council (HCC), Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council.

HCAF Members List

Your countryside needs you!

New members are needed for a group which advises on ways to improve access to Hampshire’s countryside.

The Hampshire Countryside Access Forum (HCAF) needs a new engaging and dynamic member to represent the interests of horse riders, to advise organisations including Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils.

HCAF is the statutory Local Access Forum for Hampshire (excluding the New Forest and South Downs) Southampton and Portsmouth, required under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.  Its members are people from a cross-section of interests, from landowners, farmers, councillors and rural business owners to walkers, horse riders, cyclists and motor vehicle users. This ensures that the needs of all groups are taken into account when the Forum provides advice on access to the countryside.

Forum members are volunteers but can claim back travel and other related expenses. A Forum Officer provides administrative support for the Forum, which meets four times a year.

To apply for Forum membership, please download an application pack


Most meetings are held at the Hampshire County Council offices in Winchester.

The agenda for each meeting and any supporting documents will be available approximately one week before the meeting.

Meetings are open to the public. Questions can be submitted or representations made at meetings, provided notice of at least two weeks is given to the Forum Officer. Contact the Forum Officer for further information.

Meeting Dates

  • Tuesday 3 October 2023 - Day Time
  • Tuesday 9 January 2024 - Evening
  • Tuesday 9 April - Day Time
  • Tuesday 2 July 2024 - Evening
  • Tuesday 1 October 2024 - Day Time

Papers from meetings


Older papers
Annual reports
Projects and advice

Equestrians in Hampshire – A reference guide for Transport, Planners, Developers and other Decision makers

HCAF is concerned about the impact of new developments and highway infrastructure in Hampshire on future safe accessibility to the public rights of way network for all users.  Hampshire has a thriving equestrian population and is one of the most densely horse populated counties in England, but research has shown that there is very little information available to decision makers about the needs of horse riders and carriage drivers.  This guidance document sets out to provide this information and how decision makers could integrate the safety of equestrians into their plans.

Equestrians in Hampshire – A reference guide for Transport, Planners, Developers and other Decision makers

The Hampshire Countryside Access Forum was delighted to be recognised with a national award from the British Horse Society “For excellent service by an organisation, business or professional person for the protection, promotion or extension of equestrian access”. Gail Johnson (middle) and Gill Plumbley (right) in the photograph were pleased to accept this award in November 2018 on behalf of the Forum for its work on the guidance document ‘Equestrians in Hampshire’. This is a reference guide for Transport, Planners, Developers and other Decision Makers to raise the awareness of the needs of equestrians in Hampshire.

National award from the British Horse Society

Countryside Access Plans (ROWIPs)

The Forum has guided all 3 authorities on the approach to preparing their Rights of Way Improvement Plans (locally termed Countryside Access Plans) and continue to be involved in their delivery through membership of the CAP working groups and regular progress reports. In addition, items on the Forum’s agenda frequently relate to widespread/strategic issues identified through these plans.

Providing Access to Hampshire’s Heritage

In response to the provision in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to introduce a cut-off date of 1 January 2026 for adding historic routes to the Definitive Map (the official record of public rights of way in a given area), the Hampshire Countryside Access Forum (HCAF) ran a project entitled Providing Access to Hampshire’s Heritage (PATHH). HCAF was awarded just under £50,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2010.

The project recruited more than 100 volunteers who undertook research to find historic evidence for routes identified to have a modern need as outlined in the Hampshire Countryside Access Plan. Workshops were also delivered to 14 schools across the county, talks were given to 21 organisations and an exhibition featured in 26 venues.
As a result of the project some new routes were added to the Definitive Map for Hampshire and more are being progressed. The research project has now been completed but background and educational material is available at Providing Access to Hampshire's Heritage (PATHH). The research findings are available from [email protected]

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