Helping to resolve hedge disputes
Up and down the country, there have been examples of disputes between neighbours over the height of evergreen garden hedges. Some of these have resulted in expensive court cases, or increasing tension between neighbours. As a result, Government introduced new 'high hedges' legislation, contained within Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.
This Act places a responsibility on councils to adjudicate in disputes between neighbours, in cases where one neighbour makes a high hedges complaint to the council. However the Act makes clear that before involving the local council, genuine efforts should be made to resolve the complaint through dialogue with the neighbour. A 'quiet word' with the neighbour will often be sufficient – it may be that they have not realised how high their hedge has grown, or the impact it has on their neighbours. Also, before asking the council to intervene, an independent mediation or conciliation service might be able to help – the council can help here – contact the Anti Social Behaviour Team for details.
If a 'quiet word', and mediation, do not work, you can use the new legislation, and ask the council to intervene.
The council has developed specific procedures for these cases. When applicants are ready, they should complete a detailed form (Word 255KB), and send it to the address below with other evidence including letters, photographs and a plan, together with the standard non-returnable fee of £120:
Corporate Performance Management
Those complaints that fall within the scope of the high hedges legislation will be acted upon. The council will ask the hedge owner to comment on the complaint - so that we have both sides of the case - and will then inspect the hedge, and will assess whether it affects the complainant's enjoyment of his or her property.
The council will inform the complainant and the hedge owner whether remedial work is required to the hedge; where work is needed, the council will issue a Remedial Notice. Work must be carried out by the hedge owner at his/her expense and to set a timescale. Both the hedge owner and the complainant may appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if they are unhappy with the Remedial Notice.
In cases where the hedge owner fails to undertake the work specified in the Remedial Notice, the Council has enforcement powers, and can undertake the remedial work itself, charging the costs to the hedge owner. Failure to comply with a Remedial Notice is a criminal offence.
Further details of the high hedges law are available from the department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) website. Copies of three government leaflets, 'High Hedges – complaining to the Council', 'Over the garden hedge' about settling hedge disputes face to face, and 'High hedges – appealing against the Council's decision' are available from the council.
This page was last updated on 25 November 2016