HIGH HEDGES – Advice and Guidance.
The right hedge can be an ideal garden boundary and help to bring in new wildlife to your garden, but the wrong hedge can cause you, or your neighbours, unwanted impacts such as subsidence and loss of light.
As of 1 June 2005 the Council has powers to become involved if the height of a hedge is causing you concern. The following information provides a guide to what you need to do, and what the Council can do for you, should a high hedge cause you concern.
The Council can only become involved after you have attempted to find a solution with your neighbour. Evidence to show that attempts have been made must be detailed in your application.
If you need further information then please contact the Compliance Officer within the Compliance and Appeals Team email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 01256 845265
What powers do the Council have to help me?
Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act comes into force from 1 June 2005 which enables the Council to become involved in judging if the ‘reasonable enjoyment’ of your property is being adversely affected by the height of a high hedge. This in most cases will be where a hedge is creating a loss of light to your property.
The council can be involved if:
- your attempts to find a solution with your neighbour has failed;
- you are the current owner or occupier of a domestic property;
- the hedge is a semi evergreen or evergreen hedge;
- the hedge when measured from the ground is more than 2 metres high;
- the concern about the hedge relates to the height of the hedge;
The Council cannot become involved if the hedge is causing you concern about subsidence or other matters not related to the height of the hedge.
The Council cannot ask for the hedge to be removed altogether, nor can it insist that the hedge is cut down below 2 metres. The Council cannot give you powers to cut your neighbour's hedge.
How can I engage my neighbour in reducing the height of their hedge?
The leaflet titled ‘Over the garden hedge’ is helpful in setting out these measures and in summary you should:
- Be clear in your own mind as to what the problem is and how it affects you;
- Be certain about what you want and what would overcome the concerns you have;
- Approach your neighbour directly and face to face and give them a chance to think about your concerns;
- You could invite them to your home to help them understand the impact;
- If you feel that you cannot speak to your neighbour then consider a letter which focuses on the facts and does not dwell on previous failures to maintain the hedge;
- If your neighbour refuses to discuss the matter then consider an independent mediator. Mediators will not tell you what to do but help you and your neighbour to find an answer. Both you and your neighbour must co-operate in this process for it to be a success. Details on how to contact a mediator are given below;
- Accept that finding a right answer may be difficult and be ready to consider all ideas and suggestions – think about the options before you pick one that suits you both; and
- Once you have found your answer then make sure you are both clear about what you are meant to do and when – perhaps writing this down would help.
What do I need to do before I make a formal complaint to the Council?
You will need to try and find a solution with your neighbour and make a note of these efforts before the Council can become involved in dealing with your concerns. Your application will be returned if reasonable efforts have not been made to resolve the matter with your neighbour.
The leaflet titled ‘Over the garden hedge’ published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is helpful in setting out these measures that need to be taken including asking the hedge owner to try involving an independent mediator. Please see ‘How can I engage my neighbour in reducing the height of their hedge?’
Involving the Council should be your last resort and applications will be returned with your fee if you have not gone through the steps outlined above and given in full in the CLG’s leaflet ‘Over the Garden Hedge’.
How do I make a formal complaint?
A further information leaflet ‘ High Hedges: Complaining to the Council’ is available at the DCLG’s website which explains the process. Application forms and guidance notes are available below which also gives information on fees and the process that you would be entering into should you wish to involve the Council.
Whatever the decision the Council makes either party has the right to appeal the decision. Information on the appeal process is available from the CLG.
Do I need to pay a fee to the Council?
Yes, a fee of £55.00 will be required. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act requires a fee to be paid to the Council with such applications and the fee is intended to cover the cost of the work that will be undertaken by officers of the Council. There is no procedure to claim the fee back from the hedge owner. Once an application is accepted then the fee cannot be refunded.
What happens after I have made a complaint to the Council?
Once a complaint has been received and considered as to whether it meets the legal tests, the Council will write to explain the process. More information on this is available from the leaflets referred to above. The process, in brief is set out below:
- the third party given in your application will be sent a copy of your complaint form and given 28 days to try and reach solution with you
- failing that, the third party can give information to the Council which should be considered in reaching a view on whether the hedge does affect your reasonable enjoyment of the property
- should information be submitted from the third party then this will be sent to the complainant and a further 28 days given to find a solution to the concerns directly with the third party
- Should no solution be found then a Council representative will undertake a site visit and following such may seek further information from either party or from a professional such as a landscape or tree officer of the Council. Only after this time and due consideration will the Council be able to decide if the hedge does affect amenity and if so what measures should be done to overcome the impact
Any action will be published in a formal ‘remedial notice’ giving the measures to be taken and when such works should be done. This may include preventative action – to ensure that there is no recurrence of the adverse affect.
A remedial notice can be amended, withdrawn or the Council can waive or relax a requirement of the notice. While the remedial notice has effect it will be a local land charge and shall be binding on every person who is for the time being an owner or occupier of the land specified in the notice.