As part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, legislation was passed by Government to deal with the problem of high evergreen hedges that have affected numerous people over the years.
You can now lodge complaints over certain types of hedge. But before the Council can get involved you must have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving any hedge dispute. You can then complain to the Council by submitting detailed forms, support evidence and other documentation and a fee of £300.
What constitutes a high hedge?
Under the legislation, a high hedge is described as being "formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreens". Complaints about individual trees cannot be investigated.
A high hedge is further described as exceeding 2 metres (6 feet 6 inches) in height. This is due to existing town planning legislation which allows a wall, fence or similar means of enclosure to be built to this height without planning permission.
Only certain species are covered. Evergreen (such as leylandii, other conifers or laurel) or semi-evergreen (such as holly or privet) are included. Deciduous species such as hornbeam or hawthorn do not come under this legislation.
Complaints can only be taken about the height of hedges. Root damage and subsidence remain civil issues.
Grounds for complaint
Complaints will only be taken on if all other attempts at resolving the situation have failed. The Council is intended to act as a last-ditch arbitrator in such disputes, rather than providing a first port of call.
In order to support any complaint you decide to make, you should keep records of all written correspondence between yourself and your neighbour. This will be needed in any formal application to prove that attempts have been made to resolve the situation.
Before involving the Council you should read the following central government leaflets (see 'Downloads'):-
'Over the Garden Hedge' — advice on appropriate hedge treatment and agreement with your neighbour;
'High Hedges - complaining to the Council' - advice on the various processes and stages that complainants and complainees will have to go through in any formal dealings with the Council.
If you cannot reach an agreement with your neighbour on the height of the hedge and you wish to take the matter further, you should contact the Council directly and the necessary forms can be sent out for you to make a formal complaint.
Applications have to be validated prior to acceptance for processing, so please send:-
Copies of all documents have to be sent to the neighbour.
As part of the processing of official complaints, a Council officer will make an assessment on the optimum height of the hedge based on its location, distance from properties and existing height. A remedial notice will then be issued detailing the required works.
Under this legislation, both parties can appeal against the decision issued by the Council if they feel the required works go too far or not far enough. Appeals should be made directly to the Planning Inspectorate. See 'Downloads' for the leaflet 'High Hedges - appealing against the council's decision'
Please note that any complaints that are not considered to meet the necessary criteria will not be accepted. Fees will be returned if the complaint is invalid.
If you require further information please contact us