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The right hedge can be an ideal garden
boundary but the wrong hedge may cause problems. Find out
what you can do if you think that a hedge on a garden boundary is
In 2005, under Part 8 of
the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, the Government introduced
legislation to tackle the problems caused by ‘high hedges’.
The legislation gives local authorities the power to exercise
control over high hedges by investigating complaints made by the
The role of the Council
is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the
hedge owner but to decide on whether the hedge is adversely
affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their
property. In doing so, the Council must take account of all
relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing
interests of the complainant and the hedge owner, as well as the
interests of the wider community.
The Act requires
people to have taken all reasonable steps to have settled their
dispute for themselves before taking their complaint to the local
A ‘high hedge’ is defined
as a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or
shrubs that rise to a height of two metres or more above ground
level and which form a barrier to light or access.
In making a complaint, the complainant must
show to the Council that:
The latter point could
include obstruction of daylight and sunlight, jointly or as
separate issues, as well as a potential loss of view or
outlook. In addition, a complaint can made under the Act
where a neighbouring hedge makes the complainant’s garden feel
claustrophobic. Impact on growing plants may also be a
consideration, provided that the damage is attributable to the
height of the offending hedge.
Under the legislation, the following factors
are not relevant to a high hedge complaint:
Formal action by the
Council could require the owner of the hedge to reduce its height
to a maximum of two metres. The Council cannot require the
hedge to be completely removed.
The Council may, however, decide
the hedge is not affecting the resonable enjoyment of the
complainant's property and action is not required.
Whatever the outcome of the
investigation, both the complainant and hedge owner have a right of
appeal against the Council's decision. There is a seperate
leaflet concerning appeals entitled
'High Hedges - appealing against the Council's decision'.
There is no charge for an appeal.
There is a fee payable to the
Council if you make a formal complaint. The fee is
currently £195 and relates to the costs to the Council of
carrying out the formal investigation and any formal action in
relation to the complaint. The fee, payable once
the Council has determined to accept the complaint, must be paid in
full prior to any further action being taken. The fee is
non-returnable regardless of the outcome.
The Council may decline
to investigate a complaint where it considers that the complainant
has not taken sufficient steps to resolve the matter
The Government's Department for
Communities and Local Government (DCLG) provides guidance on how
you can agree a solution about problem high hedges.
Information on how to assess light restriction is also available on
the DCLG website.
Before making a complaint, you are
advised to read the following Government leaflets;
the garden hedge' explains how to attempt to settle your hedge
differences without involving the local authority.
hedges: complaining to the Council' explains what
complaints the Council can consider and how it will deal with
Anyone wishing to make a
complaint to the Council must complete the complaint
form, together with required enclosures and submit this via post or
email. The Council will require evidence to show that
the owner/occupier of the land in question has been forewarned by
the complainant that the failure to negotiate a solution would lead
to the matter being referred to the Council. A copy of the
complaint form should also be sent to the owner/occupier of the
hedge at the same time it is sent to the Council.
form and enclosures should be returned to
the Planning Department, Broxbourne Borough Council,
Borough Offices, Bishops' College, Churchgate, Cheshunt,
Hertfordshire, EN8 9XQ. Altenatively this can be submitted
via email firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2013 Broxbourne Borough Council All rights reserved.
Bishops' College, Churchgate, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. EN8 9XQ. Tel: 01992 785555