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The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 gave powers to local authorities to investigate high hedge complaints. Before making a complaint, you need to assess whether the following applies:
Does the hedge act, to some degree, as a barrier to light or access – even though it might have gaps in it? Are there two or more trees or shrubs in it, which are roughly in a line? (Complaints cannot be made about single trees or shrubs.)
Is the hedge comprised wholly or predominantly of evergreen trees or shrubs? (The legislation applies to leyland cypress, conifers and laurel. It does not apply to beech, hornbeam or climbing plants such as ivy.)
Is the hedge over 2 metres high? The hedge must affect a domestic property and not a barn, garage, summerhouse or greenhouse.
The legislation does not require all hedges to be cut to 2 metres in height and you do not need permission to grow a hedge above 2 metres.
Action will not automatically be taken if a hedge grows above 2 metres high. A person cannot be made to completely remove a hedge.
It is not an offence to have a high hedge and you are not guaranteed access to uninterrupted light. Problems must relate to a hedge that is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property.
Residents who are seriously affected by high hedges on neighbouring properties can complain to us and request an independent adjudication on the problem.
If your neighbour has a hedge which you think is too high, the council recommends you approach them to discuss the matter and explain politely that you are being troubled.
Before investigating a complaint, it will be expected that you have exhausted all avenues in trying to settle the matter yourself including using mediation services. If insufficient efforts have been made to resolve the problem, we may refuse to look at the case.
As a high hedge complaint is a dispute between neighbours, the council charges for deciding the issue. An initial application fee is required for the complaint to be assessed to see if the complaint can be investigated. If the complaint is valid you will be asked to pay a second fee to further the investigation and to take appropriate remedial measures if required. There is a 50% reduction in the charges if you are in receipt of means-tested benefits.
The aim of the investigation will be to strike a balance between the complainant's and hedge owner's interests. We will not mediate in the dispute. If after assessing all of the information and submissions by both sides in the matter, we are satisfied that a hedge is too high, we will then issue a remedial notice on the hedge owner to reduce its height to a more acceptable level.
If the owner refuses to act upon the notice, the case may be referred to the courts. There is a maximum fine of £1,000 for non-compliance with the notice and the council has the power to carry out the required work.
If you require any further information on high hedges or wish to make a complaint, contact us on the number on the right or fill in the complaint form and send it to Environmental Health, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Kelham Hall, Kelham, Newark, Notts, NG23 5QX.
Newark and Sherwood District Council