Philip Wilson Arboriculture


High hedges

 

If you are troubled by a neighbouring hedge, the best way to deal with it is to discuss it amicably with the owner and to agree a solution. For this reason, the law requires people to have taken reasonable steps to try to settle their hedge dispute for themselves before complaining to the local Council. If you do complain, your Council will act to resolve the matter only if they accept that the hedge is sufficiently dense (evergreen or semi-evergreen) to fall within the required definition. They are also likely to make a charge.

A tree or hedge belongs to the owner of the land it is growing on and, under common law, that person is responsible for managing and maintaining it so that it is not a nuisance to anyone else. Where the branches of a tree or hedge cause a nuisance by trespassing onto an adjoining property, common law allows the neighbour to remedy this by cutting back to the boundary any overhanging branches - provided there are no legal restrictions such as a Tree Preservation Order. However, height cannot be reduced without the permission of the owner.

The Act says that a high hedge must be adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property. Admissible causes of nuisance include damage to plants, obstruction of light and loss of visual amenity. Grounds not normally considered include: (a) Worry or depression, leading to health problems; (b) interference with a greenhouse, vegetable patch or the growing of plants, or with television reception, and (c) fear that the hedge will break and fall.

 Further guidance on high hedges arises from the Anti-social Behaviour Act (2003), and can be found, among other sources, in:

 High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure, downloadable from: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/highhedgescomplaints

 Hedge height and light loss. Downloadable from: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/hedgeheight