Under section 146 of the Highways Act 1980, the owner of land is responsible for maintaining any gates and stiles providing public access through their boundaries in a condition that is safe and reasonably easy to use. A structure will generally be considered to be safe and reasonably easy to use if it meets our standard specifications (below).
The Lake District National Park Authority has the responsibility for ensuring that this duty is fulfilled.
It is important to note that whoever provides and installs the access item, it is the owner that remains liable and responsible for its’ continued safe upkeep. That is, if a member of the public injures themselves because of a defect in a stile or gate, whoever installed it, it will be the owner who will receive and deal with any insurance claims. In undertaking any practical work the existing access must not be made more difficult or restrictive – for instance a wicket gate must not be replaced with a kissing gate, and gaps or gates must not be replaced with a stile.
We have had to adapt our approach for all our work during 2020 due to the covid19 pandemic and the financial implications this has caused and our Ranger staff being on full or part time furlough. Although there has not been a policy change in our approach to the management of the public rights of way network within the national park, we have had to make some difficult decisions to re-prioritise our commitments. We have had to focus and prioritise our work on Health and Safety works, our statutory responsibilities and visitor management across the national park. For these reasons we are not currently able to replace or maintain all gates and stiles on rights of way at our cost. From November 2020 onwards, we will have all our Ranger staff back from furlough and they will be the contact for landowners to discuss any rights of way issues on a case by case basis.
When installing or replacing gates or stiles, owners may claim up to 25% of any expenses they can show to have been reasonably incurred in complying with the legislation. You can download the claim form but please contact your Ranger in the first instance with regard to this.
In the Lake District National Park we try to ensure that as much of our furniture (gates and so on) is as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. This is known as 'Least Restrictive Access'.
Our policy and guidance can be downloaded here Structures - LDNPA adopted policy
Our approved drawings and specifications for gates, stiles and other furniture is here Structures including specifications and drawings
New gates across footpaths, bridleways, and restricted byways are allowed - but only if authorised by us under section 147 of the Highways Act 1980. We can only authorise new gates on agricultural or forestry land, and then only for the purposes of preventing the movement of stock to aid agricultural or forestry efficiency. We have no power to grant authorisations for new gates in gardens, across lonnings, or other similar land.
We rarely grant authorisation for new stiles unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you are considering putting new gates (where there isn't one currently) please contact Nick Thorne on
Decisions on authorising new structures are taken under delegated powers. Under the Openness of Government Regulations 2014 we publish all these decisions which can be seen here.