Guidance for resolving high hedges disputes
Under Anti-Social Behaviour legislation, a high hedge is defined as being: "So much of a barrier to light or access as is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs; and rises to a height of more than two metres above ground level."
Simply put, a hedge is a 'high hedge' if it is all of the following:
A row of 6 conifers, 4 metres high, blocking light to the lounge window of a house next door would be classed as a high hedge.
A row of 5 metre high beech trees that lose their leaves in winter wouldn't be classed as a high hedge.
You are responsible for looking after any hedge on your property. You must make sure it is not a nuisance to anyone else. This means trimming it regularly on its top and sides.
Before contacting us, you need to firstly speak to your neighbour. Calmly talk to them about the issue. It's much better to sort the problem out between yourselves if you can and to stay on good terms.
If you've already tried to sort the problem out with your neighbour without success, you could contact a mediator. They may be able to help you to sort the problem out between yourselves.
Useful advice about solving the problem informally can also be found in the Government's 'Over the Garden Hedge' guidance.
Keep a written record of what you are doing. For example, if you spoke to your neighbour verbally you should also make a note of it in writing. You will need this evidence if you later decide to make a formal complaint to us.
You should only contact the Council as a last resort.
If you submit a formal complaint to us, you must:
If it was more than a year ago since you last tried to resolve the problem, we will ask you to try again before we investigate.
To make a complaint, you need to:
Please send this information to email@example.com.
Before investigate your complaint, we will need to:
You can complain about a 'domestic property' that is affected by a high hedge. This is defined as 'a dwelling, or any associated garden or yard.' The garden or yard must be linked legally, not necessarily physically, with the property.
If you complain, you must show that the problem(s) with the hedge are related to its height and it is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property. Examples of problems include:
You can't complain about:
We'll gather all the information we need to make a decision. This includes visiting the site and getting a written statement from your neighbour.
It usually takes about 12 weeks for us to reach a decision.
We may issue a 'remedial notice' to the people responsible for the hedge. A remedial notice sets out what must be done, and by when. It stays with the property and passes to future owners.
The remedial notice may order the long-term maintenance of a hedge at a lower height. It cannot order the removal of a hedge, or its height to be reduced below 2 metres.
The hedge owner can go further than the notice requires.
It is an offence not to carry out the works in the remedial notice. If the hedge owner doesn't carry out the works they could be prosecuted, and if found guilty in the Magistrates Court, fined.
We have powers that enable us to enter land and carry out the works ordered by a remedial notice. Expenses are recovered from the hedge owner.
You can appeal our decision if you are the person who made the initial complaint or if you're the land owner of where the hedge is.
Appeals go to the Planning Inspectorate. They deal with these matters on behalf of the Secretary of State.
An appeal must be made within 28 days of our decision. If a remedial notice has been served, it will be suspended whilst the appeal is being decided.