On 01 June 2005 new legislation came into force relating to unneighbourly high hedges, and provides, as a last resort, for the Council to adjudicate on disputes over high hedges. As with any matter between neighbours it is important first of all to try to reach an amicable solution.
How to complain
You can only complain under these procedures in the following cases:
- Where the hedge is on land owned by someone else
- Where the hedge that is causing the problem is made up of two or more trees or shrubs
- Where the hedge is mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen
- Where the hedge is over 2m high
- In cases where there are gaps or breaks in the hedge it still obstructs light or views
- Where you are the owner or occupier of the property affected by the hedge
- Where the property is residential
You cannot complain about individual trees, deciduous hedges, roots or concerns about possible subsidence that may be caused by a hedge.
You must first of all discuss your concerns with your neighbour and try to reach an amicable arrangement. This can be done verbally or in writing, but you should keep a record of the efforts that you have made. The booklet 'Over the garden hedge', issued by the government, is available from our offices or can be downloaded here: Over the garden hedge. This booklet provides information on settling problems amicably.
You then need to make sure the procedures recommended apply in your particular case.
Before you complain to the Council you should ensure that you have read the booklet published by the government, 'High hedges: complaining to the Council'. You can pick up the free booklet from our offices or download it from the Department for Communities and Local Government web site. You should be aware that the Council can refuse to intervene if they think you haven't done everything you reasonably can to settle the dispute.
Other information is available here: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. Use the search option to find information on high hedges.
When you are sure that you have exhausted all ways of reaching an amicable agreement, including using a mediator service if possible, and you are certain that the procedures in Step 2 apply, then please print and complete our high hedges complaint form and return it to us. You will need to show that the height of the hedge is causing you real disadvantages, not simply to complain that a particular hedge is higher than others nearby.
There is a processing fee of £275 for dealing with each complaint (a reduced fee of £50 is payable for complainants receiving certain benefits).
An Enforcement Officer will investigate your complaint, discuss the matter with your neighbour, and visit the site with the Council's Arboriculturist. A decision will then be made as to whether the hedge adversely affects the reasonable enjoyment of your home and garden and what - if anything - should be done about it. If it is decided that action is necessary a formal remedial notice will be issued, setting out what needs to be done. There is no set deadline for deciding complaints. The Council will endeavour to deal with complaints quickly, but you shouldn't expect to get an answer for at least 12 weeks.
If you disagree with the Council's decision you can lodge an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days of the decision letter. The owner of the hedge also has the right of appeal. The appeal form is available from the website of the Planning Inspectorate.