Removal of highway rights

The procedure to remove the public highway status from a piece of land

This procedure is also known as an "extinguishment". This process involves an application to a Magistrates Court for an Extinguishment Order. There are prescribed preliminary consultation procedures and opportunities for objection.

How highways are defined

The definition of public highway is:

a way over which all members of the public have a right to pass and repass.

The most common are footpaths, bridleways and full vehicular use highways.

The public highway usually extends over the whole width of a road, footway, verge and other land up to the boundaries of adjoining properties and fields.

Land ownership

The County Council does not normally own the land beneath a highway, but is only responsible for maintaining the surface. The extinguishment process removes the public highway rights but does not transfer land ownership.

Land reverts to the freehold owner of the subsoil. It is the responsibility of the applicant to make all the necessary enquiries into land ownership and arrange for the subsequent transfer of title. Where the Council does owns the subsoil the applicant will need to separately negotiate with the Council regarding the purchase of the land. Land Registry can help you find out who owns the subsoil of a piece of land.

It is recommended that you investigate any costs involved with the transfer prior to the extinguishment procedures being commenced, but not to commit financially unless/until the extinguishment application is successful.

The process

The area of land will be agreed with the applicant prior to commencement of consultation with:

  • parish council/town council
  • district council
  • statutory undertakers (public utilities such as water, gas etc.)
  • neighbouring land owners
  • local county councillor
  • other departments in Hampshire County Council
  • notices will be placed on site
  • notices will be placed in the local paper

Please see the guidance notes for further details.

Dealing with objections

Any objections received during consultation must be resolved before the process can continue.

The Council can't act as referee between the applicant and the objector. The applicant must liaise directly with the objector. In the case of the statutory undertakers, such as gas, water and electricity, this may mean agreeing an easement/wayleave for any of their equipment within the land concerned for which the statutory undertaker may charge a fee.

The Council will need the withdrawal of any objection in writing before the extinguishment can proceed. If this is not received within 180 days, it may be necessary to repeat the original consultation and the Council reserves the right to require a further £1,195 fee before proceeding. Any objections at this stage must be resolved before the process can continue.


An extinguishment is a lengthy and potentially complicated legal procedure taking a minimum of six months depending upon the details of the application.


All fees are non-refundable.

There is a £81 admin fee, providing a plan to confirm that the land concerned is subject to highway rights. The applicant will be asked to annotate the plan to identify the extent of highway they would like to have extinguished.

The total cost for highway extinguishment is £4,000, made up of:

  • £1,195
  • non-refundable first instalment to cover consultations
  • £2,805
  • non-refundable second instalment for court fees and legal fees

An additional cost may be required if the initial hearing is contested and a second hearing is needed.

The cost of any diversion of any utilities and/or the cost of entering into any wayleave/easement agreement is also to be met by the applicant.


If you are happy you understand the process, timescales and charges: