Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which gives local authorities powers to deal with complaints about high hedges came into operation in England on 1 June 2005.
The role of the Planning team is to adjudicate on whether the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property. Complaints will only be investigated by the Council if you have done everything you reasonably you could to settle your dispute yourself before making a formal complaint.
Where circumstances justify it, the Planning team will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner instructing them how to remedy the problem, and by when.
Failure to carry out these works is an offence could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
Before you consider making a complaint you must decide if the offending hedge satisfies the following criteria:
- 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. 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.
The council does charge a fee for this service. The fee is £250.
The Council will not consider a complaint received within 12 months of a previous complaint about the same hedge.