HedgesIf you are concerned about a hedge that is obstructing the pavement, road, streetlight or a road sign then you should report it to our "Street Scene" enforcement team using the form below.

Resolving conflicts over High Hedges

In 2005, new powers were granted to councils aimed at preventing neighbours clashing over high garden hedges. Please use this page to learn about the process, costs and some of the misconceptions about the legislation.

Preventing High Hedge problems

Clearly preventing problems before they become a nuisance with neighbouring properties is sensible. This means managing your own hedges and trees regularly, just as much as expecting your neighbours to do the same.

To help people resolve high hedge disputes amicably the Dept for Communities and Local Government has produced a leaflet, called "Over the Garden Hedge" (PDF 1mb).

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When to complain to the Council

Complaining to the Council should always be the last resort. Before formally contacting us you should have exhausted all other options. Successful negotiation with your neighbour before approaching the Council, is the best outcome for all parties involved not least as without contact with your neighbour will can refuse to intervene.

You can bring your complaint to us provided: 

  • the hedge in question comprised wholly or predominantly of a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs
  • it is over 2 metres high
  • the hedge acts, to some degree, as a barrier to light or access; and because of its height, it adversely affects your reasonable enjoyment of your property (home or garden or both).
  • those affected must be able to produce evidence that a recent attempt has been made to settle the dispute with their neighbours
  • prove that the hedge is growing on land owned by someone else
  • that the hedge is made up of a line of two or more trees or shrubs, which are over two metres in height and are predominantly ever-green or semi-evergreen.

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The process and fees

The Council charges a £500 non-refundable fee for considering a High Hedges complaint.

The legislation does not specify the procedures that the Council must follow in determining complaints but the Council should assess each case on its merits.

In doing so, the Council will gather information about the hedge, its effect on the complainant and hedge owner and its visual contribution to the wider area.

In each case the Council will decide, in the first place, whether the height is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property, including the garden. If so, the Council will then consider what, if any, action should be taken in relation to the hedge in order to remedy the adverse effect and to prevent it recurring.

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The action the Council can take

If the Council decides that action should be taken we will issue a formal notice to the person responsible for the hedge, setting out what must be done and by when. This is known as a "remedial notice".

This may include long-term maintenance of the hedge at a lower height, but will not involve reducing the height of the hedge below 2 metres, or its removal altogether. Although the Council cannot require such action, the land owner is free to reduce the height further than the remedial notice requires.

Failure to comply with the remedial notice is an offence. If convicted in a magistrates’ court, the hedge-owner could be fined up to £1,000. 

Failure to comply with the court order would be another offence, liable to a further £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 then have powers to undertake the work specified, recovering the cost from the hedge owner. But, there is no requirement or obligation on the Council to intervene before this point is reached. 

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Appeals

Both hedge owners and complainants have the right to appeal against the Council’s decision. They must do so within 28 days from the date the Council reached its decision. In the case of an appeal, the remedial notice is suspended whilst the appeal is determined.

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Facts about the High Hedge legislation

The following notes are based on some of the misconceptions about the legislation and are based on customer feedback.

  • The legislation does not require all hedges to be cut down to a height of 2m
  • You do need permission to grow a hedge above 2m
  • When a hedge grows over 2 metres the Council does not automatically take action, unless a justifiable complaint is made
  • If you complain to the Council, this does not mean your neighbour will be asked to reduce the height of their hedge. The Council will consider each case on its merits.
  • The legislation does not cover single or deciduous trees
  • The Council cannot require the hedge to be removed
  • The legislation does not guarantee access to uninterrupted light
  • There is no provision to serve an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO) in respect of high hedge complaints.

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Useful websites

For further information visit the Communities and Local Government website.

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