Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 gives local authorities powers to deal with complaints about high hedges.
Provided that you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving any hedge dispute, you will be able to forward your complaint to us by submitting detailed forms, support evidence and other documentation.
The fee for submitting a complaint to us is £450.
A high hedge is defined as a line of two or more evergreen, or semi-evergreen, trees or shrubs which are two or more metres in height and which block light or access to a domestic property.
Complaints must relate to the height of the hedge as problems relating to roots are specifically excluded from the Act.
Complainants must be able to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the problem by negotiation before an approach is made to us. Even though a dispute may have been going on for many years, new evidence of a serious attempt at amicable resolution will be required to validate any formal complaint application. Complainants are advised to either speak to neighbours or write a polite letter advising of concerns. If agreement cannot be reached, the matter may be subject to independent mediation as recommended by the Government. The National Mediation Helpline is the contact for those who wish to find their nearest Community mediation service.
It is not our role to mediate or negotiate between neighbours, but to adjudicate 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.
We may either dismiss the complaint or where circumstances justify it issue a formal notice of remediation to the hedge owner. The notice will only require works to the hedge that address any problems it is causing. There is no general requirement for hedges to be cut down to two metres. However, the notice cannot require the reduction of the hedge to a height of less than two metres, or its complete removal. The notice would also set a time limit for carrying out the works and that a maximum height is maintained thereafter. 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 so much per day thereafter. We ultimately have the power to carry out the works in default of the hedge owner and recover our costs.
Anybody considering making a formal complaint about a high hedge is advised to contact us beforehand to discuss whether there is anything more that can be done to try to resolve the issue amicably. However, we are unable to advise on the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Prior to the submission of a complaint to us, complainants need to carry out exhaustive actions themselves, including collecting detailed evidence and in particular attempting to resolve the matter amicably with their neighbours.
The Government have produced two useful leaflets which gives advice on settling hedge disputes without involving the local authority. It is strongly recommended that anyone contemplating making a formal complaint read the official leaflets before doing anything else:
- High Hedges - Over the Garden Hedge [PDF 1.1MB] - advice on how to resolve a hedge dispute with your neighbour.
- High Hedges - Complaining to the Council [PDF 395KB] - advice on the various processes and stages that complainants and complainers will have to go through in any eventual dealings with us.
- High Hedges Complaints - Prevention and Cure [PDF 769KB] - which provides an outline of the law and offers advice on the implementation of the system.
- High Hedges - Height and Light Loss [PDF 359KB] - a useful technical document that explains how to measure the detrimental effect of a high hedge.
In the Derbyshire Dales, the High Hedges Legislation will be the responsibility of the Development Management Section of the Regulatory Services Department. The Council's Head of Regulatory Services under delegated authority will determine all complaints.
Further advice can be obtained by contacting Chris Payne;
- Tel: 01629 761 244