The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 deals with the problem of excessively high evergreen hedges.
The legislation clearly places responsibility on the complainant to attempt to first resolve the dispute, either directly with the hedge-owner or through the use of mediation, before making a complaint to us.
We charge a fee for assisting in these disputes and this must accompany your application.
Speak and write to your neighbour
You are more likely to be able to sort things out with your neighbour if you can talk to them about the problem. Try to speak to your neighbour face to face.
It is also a good idea to write a letter, especially if you aren’t on speaking terms. We ask that you send 2 letters to your neighbour within a 6 month period before you contact us. You should keep a copy of all correspondence and replies because you will need to provide evidence that you have tried to resolve the problem sufficiently yourself before we can accept a complaint.
Further information on how to successfully talk to your neighbour and how to write a letter is contained in the ‘Over the Garden Hedge’ leaflet.
Complaining to us – ‘The Last Resort’
If your issue meets the grounds for complaint above and discussions/mediation with your neighbour have not been successful you can complain to us.
Please note you will need to include the following with your complaint form:
- the appropriate fee
- photograph/s of the hedge
- copies of deed plans indicating boundary lines of your property
- details of attempts to resolve the issue with your neighbour/attempt mediation – dates, copies of letters etc
- a clear location plan of the hedge detailing its position in relation to the affected property and any other surrounding properties that are also affected (measurements in metres)
The process is fully open and transparent and you will be expected to send a copy of your complaint form to the hedge-owner. Further correspondence and Notices will also be copied to all interested parties.
You can download the Guidance Notes and Complaints Form here. However, it is recommended you obtain a full application pack - please contact us.
What you can expect from us
Our role is not to mediate or negotiate between you and your neighbour, but to make a decision as a neutral ‘third party’ on whether – in the words of the Act – the hedge is ‘adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property’.
In doing so, we must take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and the hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community.
You should note that accepting a complaint will result in an assessment but does not guarantee that we will be able to take enforcement action. This will depend on the result of the assessment and whether the hedge is deemed to be ‘actionable’ following a detailed light loss calculation.
Further information is contained in the leaflet ‘Hedge Height and Light Loss’ which can be downloaded below. We are not obliged to return the fee if the hedge is determined not to be actionable.
If we consider that the circumstances justify it, we can:
- dismiss the complainant’s application
- issue a formal notice of remediation to the hedge owner, which would set out what they must do to remedy the prescribed problem. In most cases this would amount to a reduction in height
The notice will set a time limit for the works to be carried out and will state the maximum height to be maintained afterwards. Failure to carry out the works required by us is an offence, which on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000 and a smaller fine per day onwards.
Ultimately we have the power to carry out the works in default. In this case, a bill would be sent to the hedge-owner to recover costs. If this is not paid, a local land charge would be placed on the property which would be identified on any property searches and would have to be paid by the vendor or purchaser in event of selling the property.
The fees for this service are:
- £450 as a full fee
- £75 as a discounted fee for people in receipt of Housing Benefit or means tested Job Seekers’ Allowance. You will need to show proof of the receipt of either of these benefits before a discounted fee will apply.
This fee is to cover the cost of administration and detailed site assessment visit(s) to determine if the hedge is “actionable”.
These fees will be reviewed annually.
Appeal against a decision
The legislation provides a means of appeal for both the complainant and the subject of the complaint.
Rights of appeal
Under the Act, the complainant and the owner and occupier of the land where the hedge is situated can appeal against:
- the issue or withdrawal of a remedial notice
- the waiver or relaxation of its requirements
Also, the complainant can appeal against:
- a decision by us that the height of the hedge is not adversely affecting their reasonable enjoyment of their property
- a decision not to require remedial action even though the height of the hedge is causing problems
Details of appeals can be found in Section 8:
0117 372 8812
The High Hedges Appeals Team
The appeal form must be sent to the Planning Inspectorate and a copy to us within 28 days of the Remedial Notice issue date or the date when we said we would take no action, withdraw a Notice, or waive or relax its requirements.
Grounds for complaint
Your complaint cannot be accepted unless we are satisfied that you meet the grounds for complaint listed. In order to help you with this you may wish to complete the ‘Grounds for complaint’ checklist.
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions then we will not be able to accept the complaint.
If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these questions, then it is likely to be a ‘high hedge’ for the purposes of the Act.
Provided the complainant has taken sufficient action to first try and resolve the problem with the hedge owner, then the complaint may be accepted.