Local councils have been given powers to deal with complaints about high hedges. Before you can make a complaint, you must be able to show that you have taken every reasonable step to talk to your neighbour to resolve the problem.
A leaflet 'Over the garden hedge' is available on the GOV.UK website. This gives advice on how to settle your hedge differences without involving the local council. This process must be attempted before a complaint can be made to us.
You may also find it useful to view our page 'Trees overhanging boundaries'. This details the work you can do to branches of trees or hedges that encroach onto your property.
How to complain
You can complain to us if you have been through all the steps in the 'Over the garden hedge' leaflet and the issue is not resolved. We will expect you to have gone through all the steps outlined in the leaflet before you approach us for help. We can refuse to get involved if we do not think you have enough proof that you have done this.
You must also be able to answer yes to all the points listed below:
Is the high hedge or the part of it that's causing problems:
- growing on land owned or occupied by someone else?
- made up of a line of 2 or ore trees or shrubs?
- mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen
- more than 2 metres high
- a barrier to light or access (even if there are gaps)?
- part of and forming the boundary of a house?
- harming the reasonable enjoyment of a home you own or occupy and/or it's garden or yard?
You cannot complain about individual trees, deciduous hedges, roots or concerns about possible subsidence that may be caused by a hedge.
Further advice can be found in the governments leaflet 'High Hedges: complaining to the council'.
The complaint process
A Planning Enforcement Officer will investigate your complaint. They will discuss the matter with your neighbour and visit the site with the council's arborist (tree expert).
They will make a decision as to whether the hedge harms the reasonable enjoyment of your home and garden. They will also suggest what, if anything should be done about it. If they decide action is necessary, a formal notice will be issued. This will set out what needs to be done.
There is no set deadline for deciding complaints. The council will try 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. Information about how to appeal and the appeal form are available from the Planning Inspectorate website.