The impact on your enjoyment of your home and garden that high hedges can have is enormous. So much so, that in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 a dedicated ‘high-hedges’ procedure was given statutory authority.
The high-hedges procedure gives owners of land affected by high hedges the right to apply for an order that the hedges must be cut back to an appropriate level. The Order is mandatory, and is backed by the risk of a criminal conviction and a fine if not acted upon so is a very effective solution.
The procedure is available for the owners of domestic properties who are having their reasonable enjoyment of the property adversely affected by the height of the hedge on neighbouring land.
It also applies to trees as well as hedges; a ‘hedge’ for the purposes of the 2003 Act is defined as a line of two or more evergreens that creates a barrier to light, and which is more than two meters above ground level.
However recourse to the local authority is limited by one important caveat; the applicant must have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the issue with their neighbour first. If they have not done this the local authority can refuse to proceed with the complaint.
What those steps are is a matter of fact; there is no statutory guidance or framework that can be looked at for certainty. What is clear however, is that ‘all reasonable steps’ implies that an applicant must have exhausted the reasonable steps first. This is likely to include a sustained (but not intrusive) period of meetings, letters, phone calls and possibly even offering mediation.
If you are suffering the impact of your neighbour’s high hedges and would like to speak to someone about what can be done, please contact Will Thomas on 01279 755777.