High Hedges

High Hedges

Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 - Part 8

The right hedge can be an ideal garden boundary, if well maintained a hedge can be an attractive and long lasting landscape and ecological feature in an urban area. They define property boundaries, provide privacy, shelter and security, reduce noise and encourage wildlife.

However, choosing the wrong hedge plants may bring problems in the future.  Allowing a hedge to grow too tall can lead to difficult maintenance and excessive shading to neighbouring properties affecting their reasonable enjoyment of the property.

Summary

  • The legislation became operative in Wales on 31 December 2004.
  • The legislation only applies to two or more evergreen and semi-evergreen trees and shrubs over 2 metres above ground level.
  • Recourse to the Council is seen as the last stage of the process after all other means of resolving the problem have failed. The role of the Council is not to provide a mediation service. 
  • The Council charge of £320 for each complaint application, with a 50% reduction if you are a state pensioner, registered disabled or on state benefit.
  • The Council’s decision can be appealed by any of the parties.

Enquiries

Key points

  • It does not apply to all hedges, only those within the definition.
  • Complainants should approach the Council as a last resort when all other means of resolving the problem have failed, including mediation.
  • There is a fee (£320).
  • The service provided is to examine the hedge against the following considerations and make a decision as to whether work needs to be done to the hedge: privacy, shelter, noise, smell & smoke, damage to plants, overhanging branches, litter, obstruction of sunlight, obstruction of daylight, blocking of views, oppressive/disproportionate.
  • The decision can be appealed against in a similar way to planning decisions and there is also an enforcement process.

The legislation

High Hedge Complaints were established by Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

Making a Complaint

If you wish to make a complaint please complete the form below and read the accompanying guidance notes.

High hedges complaint form

This form is available to download in the following format:

High hedges complaint form - PDF version 23Kb

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Submit a High Hedge Complaint using the form above accompanied by the appropriate fee.

What happens then?

  • A site inspection will be undertaken
  • An assessment of the impact of the hedge will be undertaken in relation to the considerations set out previously.
  • A decision will be made as to whether work needs to be done to the hedge. 
  • Where it does, a notice will be issued specifying what needs to done.  This notice will cover the present problem and issues of re growth and maintenance.
  • The notice can be amended in certain circumstances and can also be appealed against by the recipient, the complainant or the landowner (if different).


Guidance notes for completing the high hedges complaint form

These guidance notes are to help you fill in the form to make a complaint about a neighbouring high hedge. You should also read the leaflet 'High hedges: complaining to the council' available from www.communities.gov.uk.

Consideration of your complaint will be delayed if you do not complete the form properly or do not provide the information requested.

If you are still unsure how to answer any of the questions, please contact the Council’s Arboricultural Officer.

1. Contact details

1.1 This person will be our main contact on all matters relating to this complaint.  We will direct all queries and correspondence to them.  Please bear this in mind.

There are some documents that we are required, by law, to send to the owner and occupier of the affected property.  These include our decision on the complaint.

1.2 Tick the 'yes' box if you are a professional adviser, relative, friend or other representative.

1.3  Tick the 'yes' box if you prefer to be contacted by e-mail.  We cannot send documents to you electronically unless you agree.

2. Property affected by the hedge

2.2 Keep the description short.  For example, flat above shops; home and doctors surgery combined.  The property must include living quarters otherwise we cannot consider the complaint.

2.3 We need this information because we will have to get in touch with this person to arrange to visit the property that is affected by the hedge.

2.5 This is the person who owns the freehold of the property - not a management company.  Your tenancy agreement or lease should have this information.  If not, you can check with the Land Registry.  The relevant form (313) is on their website (www.landregistry.gov.uk) or can be obtained from the Local Office.  The current fee for this service is £4, if you know the full postal address of the property.

You do not have to be the owner of a property affected by a high hedge to make a complaint.  But you should let the owner know what you are doing.

3. Location of hedge

We need this information because we will have to get in touch with these people to get their side of things, and to arrange to visit the site where the hedge is growing.

3.2 This will normally be the person you have talked to when you tried to agree a solution to your hedge problems.

3.3 If you are in any doubt about who owns the property, please see the note on question 2.5 above.

4. The hedge

Please provide a photo of the hedge.  It would help if it includes a person standing by the hedge to give an idea of scale.  We need this to make sure that the hedge meets the legal definition.

Please also provide a plan showing the location of the hedge and surrounding properties.  When drawing your plan, please look at the example below and make sure that you:

  • Name relevant roads
  • Locate your house and the property where the hedge is growing.  The properties should be numbered or named.
  • Mark clearly where the hedge is and how far it extends

Even if you have ticked all the 'Yes' boxes in this section, it does not necessarily mean that the hedge meets all the legal tests.  We still have to make a judgement on whether the hedge as a whole screens out light or gets in the way of someone - or thing - passing through it.  That is why we need the photo.

5. Grounds of complaint

It will help if you provide as much information as you can but keep it factual.  Concentrate on the hedge and the practical problems that it causes because it is too tall.

We cannot consider problems that are not connected with the height of the hedge.  For example, if the roots of the hedge are pushing up a path.

Nor can we consider things that are not about the hedge in question.  For example, that other people keep their hedges trimmed to a lower height; or that the worry is making you ill.

Please include copies of any professional reports you have had prepared.  If you are complaining about the hedge blocking light, please mark which way is north on your plan (see note on section 4 above) and provide relevant measurements (eg size of garden, distance between the hedge and any windows affected).  All measurements must be in metres (m) and centimetres (cm).

6. Previous attempts to resolve the complaint

Please keep the descriptions brief but say how you made the approach (eg face to face, phone, letter) and what the result was.

Example 1
13 November 2004 - phoned to ask if we could discuss hedge; met on 20 November but we couldn't agree a solution; 14 December - mediators visited; held joint meeting but still couldn't find an answer we were both happy with; 4 January 2005 - wrote to inform neighbour would be complaining to council.

Example 2
13 November 2004 - wrote to ask if we could discuss hedge; 2 weeks later still no reply; 4 December 2004 - wrote to ask if would speak to mediator; 2 weeks later still no reply; 18 December 2004 - wrote to inform neighbour would be complaining to council.

It is not necessary to send copies of all correspondence with your neighbour about the hedge - especially if the dispute is a long-running one.  You need only provide evidence of your latest attempts to settle it.

8. Checking and sending

Please make sure you have ticked all the boxes.

You should make out your cheque to Wrexham County Borough Council.


Contacting the Council

You can contact Wrexham County Borough Council's Arboricultural Officer for further advice and leaflets, or to make a formal complaint:

Tel: 01978 298763
Email: planning@wrexham.gov.uk

Links to Further Advice and Guidance

Information Leaflets available on www.communities.gov.uk (external website)

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External Links

Department of Communities and Local Government
This site contains a substantial amount of information in relation to high hedges.

Mediation WALES www.mediationwales.com
To find your nearest Community Mediation office

Planning Inspectorate Wales
Appeals can be made to the Planning Inspectorate Wales


Biodiversity

Planning Environment

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