Breaches of Planning Control and Enforcement
Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, there are powers for Councils to take action over high hedges. Advice on how this legislation affects you and the procedures for dealing with High Hedge disputes can be found in the leaflet 'High Hedges: Complaining to the Council'.
First Steps of the Procedure
The Council can only exercise its powers where every attempt has been made by you and your neighbour to resolve the matter first. This will depend on how well you get on with your neighbours. Before you contact the Council, you should have tried the following:
- Have a quiet word with your neighbour about your concerns.
- Follow this up by sitting down with them so that you can get a better understanding of each other's concerns and try to figure out the answer.
- If this doesn't work, invite them to talk to independent mediators who can help you find a way forward.
If your neighbour won't talk to you or you are nervous about speaking to them, send a polite letter. It won't be enough to say your neighbour is not approachable. Further information on settling your hedge differences is in the separate leaflet 'Over the garden hedge'. Keep a record of what you've done (e.g. copies of letters or a diary). If nothing works, you should let your neighbours know that you will be making a formal complaint to the Council.
If your hedge dispute has been running for years, you will be expected to evidence you have made a recent attempt to resolve the matter independently. We would look for at least one attempt to have occurred within the last few months, as your neighbour could have had a change of heart or the occupier(s) of the property changed.
Involving the Council
The role of the Council is not to mediate or negotiate between you and the hedge owner, but to adjudicate as a neutral "third party" on whether, in the words of the Act, 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.
Provided you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving any hedge dispute, you will be able to forward your complaint to the Council. A complaint can only be made by submitting the relevant application form, supporting evidence, any other documentation and a fee of £350.
Planting a New Hedge
Planning permission is not required to plant a hedgerow, but the Council encourages the use of native and deciduous species, such as hawthorn. A 'Hedge Selector' guide is available so to reduce the opportunity for later conflict with neighbours. The Royal Horticultural Society has also published advice on Garden Hedges.
Further information on preventing complaints arising from high hedges and how complaints are handled can be found within published guidance from the Government.
Pages in Breaches of Planning Control and Enforcement
- Introduction to Breaches of Planning Control and Enforcement
- You are here: High Hedges