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Council Services:

High hedges: a guide for homeowners

New high hedges law came into force on 31 December 2004. This means that you can now lodge a complaint with the County Council if you feel your home or property is being blighted by an evergreen hedge growing nearby. Complaints must be made in writing to the Planning Service.

Who can complain?

You can complain, if you’re the owner or occupier of a domestic property.

What can you complain about?

You can complain if you believe that the height of a hedge, situated on land owned or occupied by another person, is having an adverse affect on the reasonable enjoyment of your property.

Can a “high hedge” be defined?

Yes. It is defined as a barrier to light or access, formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreens; which rises to a height of more than two metres above ground level.

Can you complain if the hedge is less than two metres tall?

No.

What if there are gaps between the evergreens?

The Act says that a line of evergreens should not to be regarded as a barrier to light or access if gaps significantly affect its overall effect as a barrier of more than two metres above ground level.

Can an “evergreen” be defined?

Yes. “Evergreen” means an evergreen tree or shrub or a semi-evergreen tree or shrub.

Does a “high hedge” include the roots?

No. Roots are expressly excluded from this legislation.

Who do you complain to?

To the Council. Your complaints will be handled by the County Council’s Planning Service.

Does it cost anything to make a complaint?

Yes. You’ll be charged a fee of £320 if you instruct the Council to proceed with a complaint.

Is the Local Authority obliged to accept a complaint?

No. You should take all reasonable steps to resolve a dispute with your neighbour before contacting the Council. Contacting the Council is seen as a last resort. The Council may decline to accept a complaint if it considers that you haven’t taken all reasonable steps to resolve matters or that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious. This provision is designed to prevent malicious and unfounded complaints, and ensure that you, as a complainant, have at least tried to reach an amicable agreement with the hedge owner. Complainants should keep a record of dates when verbal or written requests were made to the hedge owner, and any responses to them.

If the Council accepts your complaint, what happens next?

The Council must investigate the complaint, and decide whether or not it is justified, i.e. whether the height of the hedge is actually affecting the reasonable enjoyment of a property. The Council is obliged to notify the complainant(s) and the hedge owner of its decision and explain the reasons behind it.

Will the County Council’s investigating officer follow specific guidelines?

Yes. National guidance notes and advice will be issued to all Local Authorities, in an attempt to ensure a standardised assessment of whether a hedge is “too high”.

If it is decided that the hedge is too high, what happens next?

The Council will issue the hedge owner with a “remedial notice”, specifying initial action to be taken; any preventative action needed and the penalties for failing to comply with the notice. The notice is valid as a “local land charge” on the deeds of the property, even if it changes ownership.

Can a hedge be removed altogether?

No. Nor can it be ordered for the hedge to be reduced in height below two metres.

How long does a hedge owner have to carry out the necessary work?

The remedial notice will be stamped with its issue date. The notice will cite an operative date. This will be at least 28 days after the issue date, and is the date on which the notice takes effect. The notice will also cite a compliance period, which is the time considered sufficient for the work to be carried out.

Can the notice be withdrawn by the Local Authority?

Yes. The Council issuing the notice can withdraw it, or waive a requirement of the notice at any time. The complainant must be notified of the withdrawal.

Is there an appeals procedure?

Yes. Any party to the dispute may appeal against the Council’s decision, if they are unhappy with it. An appeal must ordinarily be lodged within 28 days of the issue of the Council’s decision. The Planning Inspectorate will deal with appeals.

What happens if the hedge owner refuses to co-operate with the Local Authority investigation?

The Council has legal power of entry into a property in order to investigate a high hedge complaint, and to carry out works which the hedge owner has failed to do. The cost of the works is recoverable by law from the hedge owner.

What offences may be committed by a hedge owner?

The Act creates an offence of failing to comply with a remedial notice, which on conviction is punishable by a fine.

What action can the County Council take if the hedge owner refuses to comply with a notice to cut the hedge?

The Council can send in workmen to cut the hedge and then charge the owner for the full costs.

If the hedge is owned by a company does the law still apply?

Yes. A “body corporate” can be prosecuted in the same way as an individual, as can individual officers employed by that body corporate.

Contact Planning and Public Protection Service

Sustainable Development Directorate
Isle of Anglesey County Council
Council Offices
Llangefni
Anglesey
LL77 7TW
Main reception: 01248 752428
Building Control: 01248 752222
AONB Project Officer: 01248 752138
Biodiversity and conservation: 01248 752439
Fax: 01248 752412
Croesawir galwadau yn y Gymraeg
Email:Planning@ynysmon.gov.uk
Email:biodiversity@ynysmon.gov.uk
Email:aonb@ynysmon.gov.uk

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Last update: 4 November 2008 Give feedback on this page
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