Advice on high hedges

Under part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, local authorities have new powers to deal with complaints about high hedges. The emphasis is on encouraging the parties concerned to resolve the problem between themselves. The council can only become involved when negotiations have failed and are clearly not going to be resolved without the council's intervention.

The booklet Over the garden hedge gives guidance on how to approach a neighbour about a hedge which is causing a problem and steps on how to resolve the matter amicably.  The booklet High Hedges - complaining to the council explains the extent of the legislation. 

Below is a summary of the main points of the legislation.

  • It only applies to two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs growing in a row which are more than 2m in height
  • It does not apply to any deciduous tree or shrub, even those which retain their dead leaves such as beech or hornbeam, or to any individual tree or shrub
  • A complaint can only be considered if the hedge affects a residential property
  • Complaints about the hedge's roots, the dropping of leaves and debris are specifically excluded
  • When an enquiry is received, a complaint form will not automatically be sent. No complaint will be entertained by the council until the complainant can demonstrate they have exhausted every means to resolve the issue with the owner of the hedge. Documentary evidence of this will be required to accompany every formal complaint
  • The Act allows the council to charge a fee, paid by the complainant, to cover some or all of the cost of dealing with the complaint.  The fee has been set at £400 with a concession of £100 for people on certain benefits.  If within three weeks of receiving a complaint, the matter is subsequently resolved amicably, or a complaint is found to be invalid, then a 75% refund of the fee levied will be made
  • If it is found that the hedge does cause a problem the council can serve a Remedial Notice on the owner. This notice will specify what action is necessary to abate the nuisance
  • There is no time limit to deal with a complaint
  • Both parties have a right of appeal against the council's decision through the Planning Inspectorate
  • As a last resort, the council has powers to enter the land to carry out the required work by default and charge the owner of the hedge accordingly.

For more information and/or for a complaints form, please contact the tree officers.