If you think that a high hedge is detracting from the reasonable enjoyment of your property, home or garden, you may be able to make a complaint to the Council, under the terms of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, to resolve the matter.
What constitutes a high hedge?
A high hedge is defined in the Act as: -
- A hedge comprised wholly or predominantly of a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs;
- Rising to a height of more than 2 metres;
- Acting to some degree as a barrier to light or access; and
- Because of its height, adversely affecting the reasonable use and enjoyment of a property (both house and garden).
What should I do if I am being troubled by a high hedge?
Complaining to the Council should always be the last resort. You must have tried to solve the hedge problem by negotiation with your neighbour before approaching the Council. Otherwise the complaint could be rejected.
Therefore at the very least we would expect you to have spoken with your neighbour about your concerns, to have invited them to independent mediators, and to have written to them if face to face discussions do not work or you do not feel safe in speaking to them.
You should keep a diary of all contact you have with your neighbour and also copies of letters sent, the council will need to see these records when considering your application.
Is there a fee for making a complaint?
The council has set a fee of £320.00 for dealing with high hedge complaints, this fee must be submitted with the application form. If a complaint is received without payment it will be returned and no further action will be taken.
Please see our fee's section for more information.
Can my complaint be rejected?
A complaint made to the Council can be rejected for any of the following reasons:
- The complaint relates to only 1 tree or shrub,
- No fee accompanied the application form,
- The trees or hedge in question are below 2m in height,
- You cannot demonstrate that you tried to settle the dispute yourself.
- The trees or hedges in question do not adversely affect your use or enjoyment of your property.
- Your complaint relates to root damage or other matters not related to the trees or shrubs height.
In instances where applications are rejected the Council will set out the reasons for rejecting your complaint, also all or a proportion of the fee paid upon application may be returned to you.
What will the Council do to settle the dispute?
In the first instance the Council will decide whether the height of the trees or hedges in question is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property, including the garden.
If the Council decide that action should be taken to resolve the complaint, they will issue a formal notice to the person responsible for the hedge, setting out what must be done and by when. This will be known as a remedial notice. This may well include long-term maintenance of the height of the hedge at a lower height, but could not involve reducing the height of the hedge below 2 metres, or its removal.
The council will not mediate or informally resolve the complaint we will simply adjudicate on whether formal action is required.
Can I appeal against the Councils decision?
If you are unhappy with the terms of the Councils decision an appeal form must be submitted to The Planning Inspectorate in Cardiff within 28 days of the council issuing its decision. Both the complainant and the owner of the trees have a right of appeal against the terms of the Councils decision.
What if the notice is not complied with?
Failure to comply with the requirements of a remedial notice would be an offence. If convicted in a Magistrates Court, the hedge-owner could be fined up to £1,000. In addition to, or in place of, a fine the court might also issue an order for the offender to carry out the required work within a set period of time. Failure to comply with the court order would be another offence, liable to another £1,000 fine. At this point, the court would also be able to set a daily fine for every day that the work continued to remain outstanding.
If the works set out in the remedial notice is not carried out the Council has powers to do the work itself, recovering its costs from the hedge owner. But, there is no requirement or obligation on them to intervene in this way.