Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced powers that allow Local Authorities in England and Wales to take action of high hedges. This service is administered by the Council's enforcement team.
The Council can only exercise its powers where every attempt to resolve the issue has been exhausted informally between the two parties (clearly this will depend entirely on how well you get on with your neighbours). However, before contacting the Council to make a formal complaint, you should attempt the following:
- Try to speak with your neighbour and make them aware of your concerns;
- Follow up, if possible, by sitting down and talking through the issues and try to come to an amicable solution.
If your neighbour refuses to talk to you or you are nervous about approaching them in person, you can send them a polite letter explaining your concerns and inviting them to discuss them with you. The Council and Government have produced some helpful guidance leaflets regarding this matter which are available to download below.
You should keep a record of what action you have taken (i.e.. copies of letters, etc). If the dispute has been ongoing for a considerable length of time, you will be asked to provide evidence showing that you have made an attempt to resolve the matter within the preceding months.
Making a complaint
In order to make a complaint regarding a hedge problem, the following criteria must apply:
- The hedge must be over 2m in height;
- The hedge must be evergreen or mostly evergreen;
- The hedge must be growing on someone else's land;
- The hedge must be made up of at least two trees or shrubs;
- The hedge must be a barrier to light or access;
- The complaint must relate to domestic properties.
The role of the Council is not to mediate or negotiate between the two parties, 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".
Provided you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving the dispute, you can submit a formal complaint to the Council. You can make a complaint using the link below:
You can also make a complaint in writing by email or letter by downloading and submitting the application form below, any supporting evidence or relevant documentation as well as a fee of £350.