Please try to solve your hedge problems by talking to your neighbours before contacting us. If the dispute can't be settled then we can assess the case and act as an independent and impartial third party.
There is no general requirement that all hedges should be kept below a certain height, however if we think it's justified we may order the owner of the problem hedge to reduce its height.
What complaints can be considered?
You can make a complaint to us if:
- you have not been able to resolve the problem with your neighbour. Complaining to us should always be a last resort. If you have not approached and discussed the problem with your neighbour first then your complaint will be rejected;
- the hedge in question comprises wholly or predominantly of a line of 2 or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs;
- the hedge is over 2 metres high;
- the hedge is acting, to some degree, as a barrier to light or access; and
- because of its height, it is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their home or garden.
There is a fee of £320 for us to deal with a high hedge problem.
How we will deal with the complaint
The legislation does not specify the procedures that we must follow in determining complaints, but we will take into account all relevant factors and assess each case on its merits. We will gather information about the hedge, its effect on the complainant and hedge-owner and its contribution to the wider amenity of the area.
In each case we will decide, in the first place, whether the height of the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their home or garden. If so, we will then consider what, if any, action should be taken in relation to the hedge in order to remedy the adverse effect and to stop it recurring.
Even if the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's property we may conclude that no action should be taken in relation to the hedge.
If action is required
If we decide that action should be taken to resolve the complaint, we will issue a formal notice to the person responsible for the hedge setting out what must be done and by when. This will be known as a 'remedial notice'.
This could include long-term maintenance of the hedge at a lower height, but could not involve reducing the height of the hedge below 2 metres, or its removal. Although we cannot require such action, the hedge owner would be free to go further than the remedial notice requires.
Both hedge owners and complainants would be able to appeal against our decision. They must do so within 28 days starting from the date that that we notify the parties of the decision. The remedial notice would be suspended whilst the appeal is being determined.
Failure to comply with the requirements of a remedial notice will be an offence. If someone is convicted in the Magistrates Court they could be fined up to £1,000. In addition, or in place of a fine, the court might then issue an order for the offender to carry out the required work within a set period of time. Failure to comply with the court order would be another offence, liable to a £1,000 fine. At this point the court would also be able to set a daily fine for every day that the work continued to remain outstanding.
If the work in the remedial notice were not carried out we would have the power to go in and do the work specified, recovering costs from the hedge owner, but there is no requirement or obligation for us to intervene in this way.