In response to the number of complaints country-wide from residents affected by the height of hedges on land neighbouring their homes, Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 gives councils in England and Wales powers to deal with complaints about high hedges.
Complaining to the council is a last resort. All parties should make every attempt to resolve a hedge dispute themselves.
If you cannot reach a satisfactory solution, you might agree to take the matter to independent mediation as recommended by the government (though this is not mandatory). The local mediation service for Northamptonshire is:
Wellingborough Innovation Centre
Telephone: 01933 303010
There is a charge for this service for Northampton residents.
Before submitting a complaint, you should read these booklets:
- 'Over the garden hedge', which provides practical advice to help hedge owners and people affected by hedges
- 'High hedges - complaining to the council'
The following is a summary of the main criteria that should help you decide whether a hedge might be subject to the Act and, if so, whether the council could accept a complaint against it.
- You should be able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter before complaining to the council. Hard evidence, such a series of letters, would be persuasive. The council can decide not to accept a complaint if not satisfied that the complainant has tried, without success, to pursue the complaint over a period of time.
- A high hedge is defined in the Act as a barrier to light and access (including access to view or outlook) formed wholly or predominantly by a line (rough or regular) of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs that rise to a height of more than 2 metres above ground.
- The complainant's property must be domestic - defined as a dwelling (which may be only part of a larger building, including flats) or any associated garden or yard (which need not be physically attached to the dwelling as long as it is legally linked). You don't have to be the owner of the dwelling. The hedge need not be on the boundary of the complainant's property or even on an adjoining property; and the property on which the hedge is growing does not have to be domestic.
- The complainant must show that the problem relates to hedge height and that it is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the domestic property. Complaints about roots are excluded.
- Before determining a complaint the council may charge a fee, details will be provided after a complaint has been registered, exemptions may apply for those who fall within one of the council's concessionary categories.
- If the council thinks the complaint is justified, it may order the hedge owner to remedy the problem by, for example, reducing the hedge to a specified height and maintaining it at the lower level. The order, called a Remedial Notice, will set a time limit for carrying out the initial action, and will remain in force for as long as the hedge remains on site; however, such an order may never require removal or reduction to a height of less than two metres.
- A Remedial Notice must be registered as a local land charge so prospective purchasers of the property are alerted to the commitment they would be taking on.
- Both the complainant and the owner and occupier of the land on which the hedge is growing can appeal against the issuing, withdrawal, waiving or relaxation of a Remedial Notice. Complainants can also appeal against the council's rejection of their complaint.
To make a complaint, please email environmentalimprovement.DDC@westnorthants.gov.uk your complaint will be logged and a member of the team will be in contact with you to discuss the matter further.
This section attempts to outline the basic criteria that define a high hedge and whether a complaint to the council is likely to be accepted. It is not a statement of the law.