Outdoor access and recreation – guidance

Local Access Forums: participate in decisions on public access

Join a LAF to advise local decision-makers on rights of way and green space; LAF contact details and information for access authorities.

Role of LAFs

Local Access Forums advise decision making organisations (such as local authorities) about making improvements to public access for outdoor recreation.

LAFs can set their own priorities depending on local issues and what is of interest to the group members. They also respond to consultations and draft policy documents. When making recommendations, LAF members need to consider land use, as well as the need to conserve flora, fauna, geological and physical features.

LAFs are established under sections 94 and 95 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and are governed by The Local Access Forums (England) Regulations 2007.

How to become a forum member

Members of LAFs are volunteers and include a range of people from the local community, including:

  • land owners and land managers
  • access users such as walkers, cyclists and horse riders
  • those representing other interests, such as health and conservation

Contact your LAF if you are interested in becoming a member. They will let you know when vacancies become available.

New members are appointed by the local authority or national park authority, known as the ‘appointing authority’ or ‘access authority’.

Forum meetings

All the meetings are advertised on the local access authority’s website and many are included in the local press.

Most forums meet 2 or 3 times a year. Some forums also have topic groups which meet more regularly.

Members of the public can attend meetings as an observer, but only LAF members can participate in the discussions. There may be an opportunity after the meetings for non-members to ask questions.

Information for members and access authorities

The Handbook for LAF Members includes advice for LAFs on how to fulfill day to day and annual reporting responsibilities.

This handbook also contains information for local access authorities to help them understand their responsibilities towards LAFs, including the requirement to consult LAFs on rights of way improvement plans.

LAF members can use Huddle to share best practice and ideas online. If you are a LAF member and would like access to Huddle, please email: LAF@naturalengland.org.uk.

Updates about public access issues are available in the LAF newsletter and in documents produced for previous Local Access Forum National Conferences.

Annual reports

Natural England receives annual reports from each LAF and produces the national Local Access Forum annual report.

Contacts

North east

North west

Yorkshire and Humberside

East Midlands

West Midlands

East of England

South east

South west

Further information

Defra has produced guidance on the role and responsibilities of LAFs in England.

For more information about LAFs, please contact LAF@naturalengland.org.uk.