Guidance for planning applications

This page will assist anyone submitting a planning application, which incorporates building work or change in land use, no matter how small or large, where a public right of way (PROW) is involved.

Why you shouldn’t ignore a PROW

All PROW are highways and to obstruct one is a criminal offence. It’s important to identify PROW at an early stage in order to avoid potential delays to development or difficulties in selling properties.

We are under a legal duty to keep all PROW available to the public and can take enforcement action to ensure that they remain open.

A Definitive Map and Statements of all PROW are available for public viewing at Wigan Life Centre (South Building), College Avenue, Wigan WN1 1NJ.

You should also seek advice on routes that are not recorded on the Definitive Map and Statements, but may have acquired highway status.

What if there’s a PROW through your site?

Getting planning permission does not give you the right to alter, obstruct or move a PROW. This can only be achieved by following a statutory procedure.

No construction work affecting the PROW should commence on site until a Public Path Order (PPO) to divert or extinguish it has been confirmed. To protect the public’s use of the PROW, we will try to safeguard against any:

  • Changes to the surface
  • Reductions in width
  • Storage of building materials or vehicles on the PROW
  • Damage or change in alignment
  • Vehicular or increased vehicular use of a PROW
  • Additional barriers
  • Obstructions of PROW

If planning consent involves conditions relating to PROW, you will need to liaise with the Council as further legal procedures may be required.

What comes first - planning permission or a Public Path Order (PPO)?

To help reduce the risk of delays and increased costs, you must consult the Council’s PROW Officer and user groups whilst drawing up proposals for the planning application.

If planning permission is granted for a development affecting a PROW, a PPO will be necessary to authorize the diversion or stopping up of the PROW.

If there are objections to the PPO that cannot be resolved, then a public inquiry may be held with an independent planning inspector making the decision.

If the inspector supports the position of the objectors, then a new planning application will need to be made showing and accommodating the alignment of the PROW as determined by the inspector.

Key steps for a PPO:

  • You undertake initial consultation with user groups
  • A report is submitted by the PROW Officer to the Delegated Chief Officer to gain authorisation to proceed with the PPO
  • The Council makes the PPO and commences formal public consultation for a minimum period of 28 days
  • No objections – PPO can be confirmed by the Council and implemented
  • Objections made and not resolved – PPO submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation and a public inquiry may be held.


Any development proposal must give consideration to making any structure or facility accessible for all members of the community.

Temporary diversions / Stopping up orders

A PROW can be temporarily diverted or closed to enable works to be carried out on site and in the interest of public safety.

A legal procedure needs to be followed and the maximum period for such temporary orders is six months. Anything extending beyond this time scale will need permission from the Secretary of State. 

© Wigan Council