From 1 June 2005, new government legislation enabled people to take their complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to their local authority.
This legislation covers hedges that are:
- over two metres high
- consist of a line of at least two shrubs or trees
- are mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen The problem caused must affect a domestic property
- The hedge must be on neighbouring land; it does not have to be a boundary hedge, so could be some distance away and it could even include trees or shrubs on Council-owned land
- The legislation not only applies to Leyland Cypress or conifers, but could include other evergreen trees or shrubs, such as Laurel and Privet.
Beech and Hornbeam hedges are excluded.
For further advice on the types of trees covered by the high hedges legislation, please contact Development Control.
We will only become involved when the parties concerned have tried and exhausted all other means of resolving the hedge dispute.
There are two leaflets to help:
- Over the garden hedge - how to settle your hedge differences without involving us.
- High Hedges: complaining to the council - what complaints we can consider and how we will deal with them
When we receive an official high hedge complaint, our role is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner, but to adjudicate whether, in the words of the Act, “the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property.”
We must “take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community”.
Under the legislation we:
- cannot require all hedges to be cut down to a height of two metres
- cannot require the hedge to be removed
- will not automatically take action when a hedge grows over two metres unless a justifiable complaint is made
- will not automatically order your neighbour to reduce the height of their hedge. We have to weigh up all the issues and consider each case on its merits
- cannot take action on single or deciduous trees
- cannot guarantee access to uninterrupted light
If the complaint is well-founded, we can issue a formal notice to the owner of the hedge, which sets out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem and by when.
Either party has a right to appeal against its terms to the Secretary of State. Failure to carry out the works required by us is an offence that could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
A fee of £265 must be paid when the High Hedges Complaint is submitted. For pensioners and those on certain benefits this fee is reduced to £25.
To make a high hedge complaint download and fill in the High hedges complaint form and guidance notes document. The guidance notes will help you.