The Hobhouse Report’s recommendations for preserving rights of way, formed the basis of Part IV of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949.
It marked an historic change as, for the first time, the highway authorities became responsible for the upkeep of all recorded rights of way (see Clauses 47 to 50).
The thorny issue of recording the public rights of way over privately maintained roads was also addressed by S 6 of the Act, which created a new category of right of way called Road Used as a Public Path (RUPP). RUPPs were intended to allow minor roads to be recorded as public rights of way without interfering with their higher vehicular status. At the time, the main concern appears to have been that these existing vehicular rights would not be restricted by recording them as public rights of way (see Hansard 1949).
As can be seen from Hansard 1952 to 1972, many local authorities experienced considerable difficulty compiling their definitive map of rights of way and progress was slow. Achieving accuracy and gaining the agreement of land owners proved to be a long and complicated job. At an early stage the majority of county councils had applied for an extension of the time allowed to complete their draft map.
Then, as now, the performance of the local authorities was extremely variable. By 1972, 22 years after the passing of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, eight authorities had still not completed the task.