Tall evergreen hedges sometimes become a problem between neighbours when they affect light, access or otherwise impede a person’s enjoyment of their domestic property. Occasionally neighbours find it impossible to agree upon an amicable resolution to such problems. From June 1st 2005 under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 the council has the power in certain circumstances to adjudicate between neighbours on such hedges. They may issue a ‘Remedial Notice’ requiring changes to the hedge and even enforce that notice should the owner of the hedge fail to comply with it.
Neighbours must try to solve the problem between themselves
The council must only be asked to intervene as a last resort after the complainant has tried to talk to their neighbour, write to them politely, or attempted mediation through a third party. If the complainant cannot show that they have tried these methods the council will not become involved and will not accept the application. The council will not become involved if they feel that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious.
There is a fee payable to the council for its service. This fee is currently £200. The forms can be downloaded from the Documents section on the right of this page.
How does the process work?
If attempts to resolve the problem have failed a person affected by a high hedge may complain to the council. They must fill in an application form which is available online or from the council office. This must be sent into the council along with the fee. If the council decides that hedge is covered under the terms of the legislation then it will investigate the complaint. They will write to both parties to obtain their points of views and make a site inspection. Once they have gathered all the facts they will decide upon a course of action. They will not negotiate a solution between the parties but make a judgement based upon the facts of the case.
The council may decide that the problem is not serious and that nothing needs to be done. If, however, the council decides that the complaint is valid it may issue a ‘Remedial Notice’ telling both parties what must happen to the hedge. This may be simply cutting it back to a more suitable height or some other action as seen appropriate to the council. It is likely that the hedge will also be required to be maintained at the new height in the future. The ‘Remedial Notice’ will set out exactly what is required to be done and what time scale it must be done in. The council cannot decide to have the hedge removed or to cut it lower that 2.0m.
Under some circumstances the council may decide that no action is appropriate even though the hedge is adversely affecting a complainant’s property.
If either the owner of the hedge or the complainant doesn’t like the council’s decision or a particular part of it then they may appeal to the secretary of state within 28 days of the date of the notice. The Secretary of state will then review the council’s action and make its own decision on the case. The ‘Remedial Notice’ is suspended during the appeal process.
Once the ‘Remedial Notice’ has been issued or confirmed following an appeal the owner of the hedge must carry out the terms of the notice. If they fail to do so then the council may take enforcement action against them, this may include going to the Magistrates court and could mean a fine of up to £1000. If the owner still does not comply the council may decide to do the necessary works themselves and recover the costs from the owner.
The ‘Remedial Notice’ becomes a charge upon the land and therefore will apply to subsequent owners of the property.
If you have any questions about the high hedges legislation or the complaints process then please contact :
High Hedges administrator
Bath and North East Somerset Council
Telephone: 01225 394041
The following links may be of assistance.
These are available to view by clicking on the links or alternatively can be obtained from the high hedges administrator.