Since 1 June 2005 the Council has powers under Part 8 of the Anti Social Behaviours Act 2003 to adjudicate on disputes over high hedges. More information and guidance on the process can be found within this section.
A high hedge is defined in the Act as 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 2 metres above ground level. But, for these purposes, a line of evergreens or semi-evergreens is not to be regarded as forming a barrier to light or access if gaps significantly affect its overall effect as such a barrier at heights of more than 2 metres above ground level.
Settling Problems Amicably see ‘Over the Garden Hedge’
When to involve the Council see ‘High Hedges: Complaining to the Council’
Role of the local authority
The role of the Council is to act as an independent and impartial third party. They do not negotiate or mediate between individuals but will adjudicate on whether the hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the complainant’s property. In doing so, they will take account of all views and relevant factors – including the hedge owner’s amenity and that of the wider neighbourhood. They will assess each case on its particular merits.
If they think it is justified, the Council may order the hedge owner to remedy the problem by, for example, reducing the height of the hedge and maintaining it at the lower level. The Council can only require works to the hedge that address any problem it is causing. There is nothing in the Act that says nuisance hedges must be cut down to 2 metres.
Under the terms of the Act, Councils can only consider a complaint if it satisfies the following criteria:
- it must relate to a high hedge as defined in the Act;
- the hedge must be on land that is owned by someone other than the complainant;
- it must be affecting a domestic property;
- the complaint must be made on the grounds that the height of the hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the domestic property in question; and
- it must be brought by the owner or occupier of that property.
In assessing and weighing the factors involved the Council will have regard to The British Standard Lighting for buildings: Code of Practice for daylighting (BS8206) and Hedge height and light loss BRE 2004. ‘High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure’
The Council has set a fee of £600 for determining a complaint about a high hedge.
A complaint form complete with guidance notes is available to download below.