High hedges

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You may be able to ask the Council to intervene where you feel that your enjoyment of your house or garden is being adversely affected by the height of a high hedge situated on someone else's land. Provided you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving your hedge dispute, you will be able to take your complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to this Council.

Before you complain

You must first satisfy yourself that you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving your hedge dispute. This is important as you will need to explain this to the Council. Only if you have exhausted this part of the process can the Council become involved. To ensure that you have done all the necessary work you should review the information contained in the following documents:

Over the garden hedge leaflet is available on the ODPM website. A leaflet on how to settle your hedge differences without involving the local authority. This process must be attempted before a complaint can be made to your local authority.

Note this leaflet also refers to services supplied by Mediation UK. They may be contacted as follows: West Kent Mediation 01322 615744 www.wkm.org.uk.

High hedges - complaining to the Council leaflet is available on the ODPM website. A leaflet explaining what complaints the Council can consider and how we deal with them.

How to Complain

If you wish to proceed to make a formal complaint, you will need to submit a completed Complaint Form along with the appropriate fee. Guidance Notes are available to help you. Currently, the fee for this service is £290.

If we consider that the relevant factors justify it, we will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem. The Council will not be able to require any hedge to be reduced to below 2 metres in height. Failure to carry out the works required by us will be an offence, which on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

The key points:

  • The legislation does not require all hedges to be cut down to a height of 2 metres.
  • It is not necessary to get Council permission to grow a hedge above 2 metres, unless, unusually, there is a condition on a planning permission requiring the hedge to be maintained at, above or below a certain height.
  • When a hedge grows over 2 metres the local authority does not automatically take action, unless a justifiable complaint is made.
  • If you complain to us, it does not follow automatically that we will order your neighbour to reduce the height of their hedge. We are required to weigh up all the issues and consider each case on its merits.
  • The legislation does not cover single tree, deciduous trees, beech or hornbeam hedges.
  • The local authority cannot require the hedge to be removed.
  • The legislation does not guarantee access to uninterrupted light.
  • There is no provision to serve an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) in respect of high hedge complaints.

This is only a summary of the main points; it is not a complete statement of the relevant legislation. There is more detailed information available and it can either be downloaded directly via the links shown, or ordered as paper copies from the Council.

Our role is not mediate or negotiate between you as the complainant and the hedge owner, but to adjudicate on whether - as the Act says "the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property". We are required to take account of all relevant factors and will have to strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community in some circumstances.