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Stratford-on-Avon District Council
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High Hedges

High Hedge Legislation came into operation on 1 June 2005 under Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. This legislation gave Local Authorities powers to deal with complaints about high hedges.

Provided you have exhausted all other ways of resolving a hedge dispute with your neighbours, you can take your complaint about a neighbour's predominately evergreen or semi-evergreen hedge to the District Council.

The role of the Council will be to judge whether the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property. In doing so the Council will take account of all relevant factors and strike a balance between the interests of the complainant and the hedge owner.

Where circumstances justify it, the Council will issue a formal notice on the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem within a specific time table.

Under what circumstances can a complaint be made?

You must demonstrate that you have done everything you reasonably could to settle the dispute before submitting the complaint.

The hedge must be:

  • Growing on land owned by someone else
  • Made up of a line of two or more trees or shrubs
  • Mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen
  • More than 2 metres tall
  • You must be the owner or occupier (e.g. tenant) of the property affected by the hedge.
  • The affected property must be residential.

Further information and guidance can be found in the leaflets Over the garden hedge and High hedges: Complaining to the Council, both are available from the Communities and Local Government website.

Why do I have to try and resolve the high hedge issue with my neighbour before coming to the District Council?

The legislation requires the complainant to provide the Council with information to show that they have tried to resolve the matter with their neighbour before asking for the Council to become involved. Applying to the Council should be the last resort when the complainant has been unable to agree a solution with their neighbour. If we do not consider that the complainant has explored all avenues of contact to try and resolve the matter with their neighbour, we may refuse to become involved at this stage in the process.

How do I approach my neighbour?

Often the easiest way to resolve a high hedge issue is to talk to the owner of the hedge, explain what the problem is with their hedge whether it is loss of sunlight to your garden, blocking light getting into rooms within the house etc. They may not realise their hedge is a problem to you so it is better to take things slowly and let them think about the situation. Perhaps agree a time to discuss it again and ask if they would like to come and see the problems from your house or garden. If you are not on speaking terms with your neighbour then perhaps contact should be made by a letter, pointing out the facts. You should put past differences to one side and carefully word the letter so as not to antagonise the situation, after all, you want to resolve the matter if at all possible. If you have thought what height you would prefer the hedge to be reduced and maintained at, you could mention this in your letter. You should make a note and take copies of all contact you have made with your neighbour.

My neighbour does not want to communicate with me about their high hedge, what can I do?

If you have tried talking to and writing to your neighbour and they have refused to communicate with you then you can ask for help from independent mediators who are totally impartial. Even if your neighbour has not agreed to take part in mediation, you can still approach them but in order for the mediation to be a success, both parties need to co-operate in the mediation process. Whitefriars Housing Association based in Coventry provides a mediation service for a small fee. Otherwise mediators working in the locality can be found at http://www.civilmediation.justice.gov.uk/

I've tried talking to, writing to my neighbour and also mediation but still have not been able to satisfactorily resolve the high hedge issue with them. What can I do now?

If you have been unable to resolve the high hedge issue with your neighbour, then providing you have evidence that you have approached your neighbour you can submit a High hedge Complaint to the District Council.
- To download a complaint form and guidance notes for High Hedge Complaint
or a High Hedge Complaint form can be obtained by calling 01789 260304 or e-mail planning.applications@stratford-dc.gov.uk

Is there a fee to submit a High Hedge Complaint to the Council?

Yes, The Council's Executive resolved that the fee for submitting a complaint should be £400 or £100 for complainants who are in receipt of a means tested benefit.

Does submitting a complaint to the Council always result in a positive outcome for the high hedge complainant?

Not necessarily, the process uses formulae to work out how high the hedge should be in relation to the size of your garden; location of windows; orientation of the hedge in relation to sun direction etc. The hedge in question my not be of sufficient height to be considered a nuisance under the legislation when the Council apply the formulae to the site. Each site requires to be assessed individually so it is difficult to provide specific advice without going through the process. Also your reasons for complaining may not be covered by the Act such as concern over root related damage to your property; roots taking moisture from the soil therefore creating difficult growing conditions for your plants; fears that the hedge might fall or break in the wind etc.

I've decided to submit a formal complaint, I've sent in my form; cheque for £400 and evidence of trying to resolve the matter with may neighbour, what happens next?

Your form is your main opportunity to set out your case so it is important that you provide clear information and particularly what your grounds of complaint are e.g. lack of light to upstairs bedroom of lack of sunlight to garden etc. You should send a copy of your completed form to your neighbour so that they know you have lodged a complaint. The Council will also send a copy of all the information you submit to your neighbour, the owner or the hedge so it is important not to refer to them in a rude or abusive manner.

It will take some time to go through the complaint process as it is quite complex. Officers will invite your neighbour to set out their case and once the Council receives the relevant information from both the hedge owner and complainant, Officers will visit the site. They will view the site and surroundings and undertake detailed assessment composition; health; height; length and orientation of the hedge in question. Measurements of garden boundary length; area of the garden; distance of hedge to windows and possibly measurements from upstairs rooms if light to upper windows is an issue. Specific calculations are undertaken using formulae provided in a Government booklet Hedge Height and Light Loss http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/hedgeheight

Once the calculations are undertaken, a report is then produced outlining the complaint; comments received from the owner of the hedge; the findings of the site visit and the results of the calculations. It will conclude whether or not the hedge does adversely affect the reasonable enjoyment of the complainant's home or garden and if so what can be done to address the situation.

If the hedge has been found to adversely affect the reasonable enjoyment of the complainant's home or garden, the Council will issue a formal High Hedge Remedial Notice on the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem within a specific time period.

Will the Council instruct my neighbour to reduce their High Hedge down to 2 metres or even remove it?

No, there is a misconception that all hedges over two metres are a nuisance under the Act. They need to be more than 2 metres in height to qualify for assessment but the final hedge height could be any height depending on a number of factors such as the size of your garden; distance the hedge is from windows in your house; orientation of the hedge e.g. a hedge on the southern boundary will have more of an impact in terms of loss of sunlight.

The Council cannot instruct a High Hedge owner to remove a hedge or undertake works to a hedge which will result in the destruction or death of that hedge. Therefore, the current form and condition of the hedge is important as this can often dictate what the final height reduction can be.

I'm the owner of a hedge and I've received a High Hedge Remedial Notice. What does this mean for me and the property?

A High Hedge Remedial Notice is a land charge and perspective purchasers of the property will be informed of the detail within the Notice.

The High Hedge Remedial Notice will require the owner of the High hedge to undertake initial works to the hedge to remedy the situation. An initial reduction height will be specified together with a timescale for the works to be undertaken. Preventative action will also be detailed, outlining the ongoing maintenance required to ensure that the hedge does not grow beyond a specific height and to stop the problem reoccurring.

I'm the owner of a hedge and I've received a High Hedge Remedial Notice. What happens if I don't comply with the High Hedge Remedial Notice?

If you are in receipt of a High Hedge Remedial Notice and decide not to comply with it, then the Council could decide to prosecute you and if convicted in the magistrates' court, you could be fined up to £1000. The court can also instruct you to undertake the work and can impose daily fines for every day that the remedial works remain outstanding.

I'm the owner of a hedge and I've received a High Hedge Remedial Notice. Can I appeal against the Notice?

Yes, you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days from the date the High hedge Remedial Notice was issued by the Council.

The Inspector may allow or dismiss the appeal either in whole or in part.

I complained about a neighbour's high hedge to the Council but I do not agree with their findings within the High Hedge Remedial Notice which they have served on my neighbour. Can I appeal against it?

Yes, you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days from the date the High Hedge Remedial Notice was issued by the Council.

The Inspector may allow or dismiss the appeal either in whole or in part.

I complained about a neighbour's high hedge to the Council but they decided that no remedial action was required to the hedge. Can I appeal against this decision?

Yes, you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days from the date the ‘No Remedial Action Notice' was issued by the Council.

The Inspector may allow or dismiss the appeal either in whole or in part.
Should you require further assistance, please email planning.applications@stratford-dc.gov.uk or Tel. 01789 260304.