Since 1st June 2005 the Borough Council have been responsible for dealing with complaints from people who live next to a hedge that is so high that it is affecting the level of light coming into their property or affecting the view out of their windows.
The person making a complaint must be the owner or occupier of the residential property affected by a high hedge. If you do not own the property (e.g. because you are a tenant or a leaseholder), you can still make a complaint but you should let the owner (e.g. landlord or management company) know what you are doing.
The property you live in must include some living accommodation otherwise the Council cannot consider the complaint. The complaint procedure only applies to evergreen hedges on someone else’s land that are over 2 metres high.
The Council will not be able to deal with untidy or deciduous hedges, boundary disputes, subsidence or damage to property. Involving the Council must be your last resort and a complaint can only be made if you really cannot agree a solution with the owner of the hedge. The Council can refuse to intervene if you haven’t done everything you reasonably could to settle your dispute before making a formal complaint to the Council. The Council will not consider a complaint received within 12 months of a previous complaint about the same hedge.
Definition of a High Hedge
The Council is only able to deal with complaints about evergreen hedges because these cause the biggest problem between neighbours. Before you consider using the complaint procedure you must decide if the hedge about which you are concerned satisfies the following criteria:
- It must be growing on land owned by someone else. The hedge does not have to be on the boundary line or in next-door’s garden but you can only complain if the hedge relates to a residential property.
- The section of hedge that is causing problems must be made up of a line of 2 or more trees or shrubs. You cannot complain about individual trees or shrubs.
- It must be evergreen. The complaint can only be about a species that keeps some live or green leaves all year round. This can include privet and most coniferous types. However it does not include Beech or hornbeam hedges because the leaves they keep through the winter are dead or brown.
- It must be more than 2 metres tall. Measure the trees or shrubs that make up the hedge from the base of each plant where it enters the soil. However if the plant is on a bank or in a raised bed then the measurement must be taken from the original ground level, before the bank or raised bed were created. Even though there might be gaps in the foliage or between the trees or shrubs, the hedge must still be capable of obstructing light or views. There are no rules that say if the trees and shrubs are more than a set distance apart you can’t complain. However, where individual trees or shrubs are so widely spaced that you can see what lies behind them then it might not meet the criteria for making a complaint.