Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 allow us to investigate/resolve complaints about high hedges – the Enforcement Team only look into complaints as a last resort where you cannot agree a solution yourselves.
The rules enable councils to solve long running hedge disputes where neighbours cannot agree a solution. The legislation is much needed for those people whose lives are being seriously affected by an extremely high or damaging hedge.
If is not illegal to have a high hedge as long as it's not causing a confirmed and actionable problem for your neighbour. This is a means of arriving at a solution to problems affecting the "reasonable enjoyment" of a neighbour's house or garden but only as result of the excess height of a hedge.
If you ask us for a form you will need to send back copies of any correspondence that you have had. Details of what is required to accompany an application can be found on the booklet High Hedges: Complaining to the Council. There is a charge of £320 for this service.
What is a High Hedge?
A ‘high hedge' is defined (in Section 66 of the Act) as a line of two or more evergreen trees or shrubs which rise to a height of over two metres above ground level. The Local Authority may take action against the owner of a property where such a high hedge is growing, if the hedge forms a barrier to light or access, such that the owner or occupier of a neighbouring property has his reasonable enjoyment of that property adversely affected.
What action may be taken?
Formal action by the Local Authority could require the owner of the hedge to reduce its height to a maximum of 2 metres. The Council cannot require the hedge to be completely removed.
What is the cost?
Section 68(1)(b) of the Act allows the Local Authority to charge a fee for investigating such a complaint, Malvern Hills District Council makes a charge of £320.00.
Can I recover this cost?
If your complaint is upheld by the District Council you may be able to recover the costs from the hedge owner through the Small Claims Court. In these circumstances the Council will allow its complaint file to be used as evidence.
Charitable organisations, for example, Help the Aged, may be able to offer assistance to eligible persons in making a complaint.
Does the Council have to act on my complaint?
The Council may decline to investigate a high hedge complaint where it considers that the complainant has not taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter him/herself or where it considers the complaint to be frivolous or vexatious.
These booklets may give you some useful information and advice.
- High Hedges: appealing against the Council's decision (Booklet)
- High Hedge height and loss (Booklet)
- High Hedge complaints: prevention and cure (Booklet)
- High Hedges - Form and Guidance Notes
Contact: Planning Enforcement
Telephone 01386 565321