Skip to content

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the frequently asked questions regarding high hedges. Please use the links below to find out more:

Does Sheffield City Council have any powers concerning high hedges?


Yes. These are under Section 8 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003. This part of the Act came into force on 1st June 2005.

Back to top

Who will be able to complain?

The owner or occupier of a domestic property. Domestic property is defined as a “dwelling or its associated garden or yard”.

What can they complain about?

They can complain that the reasonable enjoyment of their property is being adversely affected by the height of a high hedge, situated on land owned or occupied by another person or organisation. Reasonable enjoyment could include, obstruction of daylight and sunlight, loss of view or domination of a garden by a high hedge and obstruction of access.

Back to top

How is a high hedge defined?

It is defined as “so much of a barrier to light or access as

a) is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreens;
b) rises to a height of more than two metres above ground level”.

Must all hedges be no more than 2 metres tall?

No. All circumstances will be different. The legislation states that local authorities cannot order the destruction of a hedge or reduce it's height to less than 2 metres, so a hedge of less than 2 metres in height would not be actionable.

Back to top

Is the Local Authority obliged to accept a complaint?

No. We may decline to accept the complaint if we consider that the complainant has not taken all reasonable steps to resolve matters complained of before contacting us, or that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious. This is designed to prevent malicious and unfounded complaints and also to ensure that a hedge victim has at least tried to reach agreement with the hedge owner as to a reasonable height. Those claiming to suffer from high hedge should keep a record of evidence including dates.

Does it cost anything to make a complaint?

We will charge a fee. This will be £352 in most cases with a discounted fee of £57 for people in receipt of Housing Benefit or means tested Job Seekers’ Allowance. We set these fees annually.

Back to top

If the council accepts the complaint as valid, what happens next?

We must then investigate the complaint and decided whether or not it is justified, taking into account national guidance notes and advice issued to local authorities by central government. We must then notify the decision to the complainant(s) and to the hedge owner and explain the reasons for it.

It is decided that the hedge is too high, what happens next?

We must then issue a ‘remedial notice’ to the hedge owner, specifying the initial action to be taken by him, any preventative action and the penalties for failing to comply with the notice. The notice will cite a commencement and a completion date for the works to be undertaken.


The notice will also be subject to a formal appeals procedure.

Back to top

Can it be ordered for the hedge to be removed altogether?

No. Neither can it be ordered that the hedge be reduced in height below 2 metres.

Where can I get more information on High Hedges?

Back to top

If Sheffield City Council can’t help what can I do?

Discuss the situation with your neighbour. A soft and conciliatory approach may achieve more than many years of legal dispute. People have lost many years of their lives and large amounts of money over high hedge litigation.

Can I cut branches overhanging my boundary?

Yes. As long as you ensure that you know where your actual boundary is. Fences, hedges and ditches often mark the legal boundary between properties but such boundaries do not always follow an obvious line on the ground. In cases where you are in dispute with your neighbour you would be wise to take legal advice before cutting any vegetation. It is also good practice to discuss any proposed works with your neighbour before you carry them out.

Only branches overhanging your boundary can be cut and they must be cut in a way that will not compromise the health of the trees or shrubs.

If a ‘Tree Preservation Order’ or a ‘Planning Condition’ protects the tree you intend to trim or if it is in a ‘Conservation Area’ you will need to obtain permission from Sheffield City Council for the works.

Please contact us to find out if the trees you are concerned with are protected. View further information on protected trees.

Back to top

If I cut back branches overhanging my boundary can I put the cuttings back over my neighbours’ fence?

You must offer the cuttings or a risings to your neighbour although they are not obliged to take them or remove them or pay for their removal. Be aware that any works to trees protected by a ‘Tree Preservation Order’ or by a ‘Planning Condition’ will require permission in writing from Sheffield City Council. Works to trees in a ‘Conservation Area’ will also require our permission. Please contact us to find out if the trees you are concerned with are protected. View further information on protected trees.

Can I expect or force my neighbour to pay for the removal of overhanging branches?

No. The responsibility for funding the cost of removal will be yours. On the bright side it will probably be cheaper than expensive litigation. However, strict liability for the safe retention of trees is the responsibility of the owner of the trees. Be aware that any works to trees protected by a ‘Tree Preservation Order’ or by a ‘Planning Condition’ will require permission in writing from Sheffield City Council. Works to trees in a ‘Conservation Area’ will also require our permission. Please contact us to find out if the trees you are concerned with are protected.

Back to top

I am a council tenant. Will I still have to pay the council’s fee for investigating any complaint about my neighbour’s nuisance hedge?

Yes, if your complaint is against a hedge on privately owned land.

My neighbour’s hedge is on a Sheffield Homes managed council property. Can the council still accept a complaint?

Yes, but you should first contact your local Area Housing Manager as the tenancy agreement may provide an alternative way of dealing with the hedge. Area Housing can take action if they believe that there is a valid complaint to uphold. Please note that procedures are still being developed in these areas and may be subject to change.

The hedge is located on Council land. Can I still make a complaint?

Yes, but the Council cannot take enforcement action against itself. You should still contact Environmental Services to discuss the problem. We will endeavour to contact the relevant Council department and seek to ensure that an internal resolution is sought that meets the same standard as that in any other complaint. Please note that procedures are still being developed in these areas and may be subject to change.

Back to top

  • Modified: Sep 24, 2009 11:54:37 AM