High hedges complaints guidance notes

These guidance notes are to help you fill in the form to make a complaint about a neighbouring high hedge.

You may also find Office of Deputy Prime Minister- high hedges complaints: prevention and cure useful to read. 

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 email: high.hedges@scambs.gov.uk

Attempts to resolve the complaint

In your online application please include documentary evidence of 3 realistic attempts at negotiation with your neighbour, over an approximate 3-month period commencing from the date the legislation came into force (1st June 2005). This is to ensure that both parties are aware of the implications of the Council’s intervention. Please keep the descriptions brief but say how you made the approach (for example: face to face, phone, letter) and what the result was.

Example 1

  • [date] – approached neighbour [Mr Bloggs of 12 High Street] to ask if we could discuss our
    concerns with the hedge. Agreed to meet in a few days.
  • Met with neighbour on [date] to discuss the problem. Neighbours came round and saw the
    effect of the hedge for themselves. Sympathetic but unwilling to reduce the hedge as much as we
    wanted and we couldn’t agree a solution because [explain reasons why a solution could not
    be found]
  • [date] approached neighbour told them that, if we couldn’t agree a solution, we would make a
    formal complaint to the Council. Suggested that we try mediation to find a resolution.
  • [date] met with mediators and neighbour, but still unable to find an answer that we were
    both happy with because [explain reasons why a solution still could not be found].
  • [date] wrote to inform neighbours that we would be submitting a high hedge complaint to
    the council, unless we can find some agreement.

Example 2

  • [date] – called round to the neighbours [Mr Bloggs of 12 High Street] to ask if we could
    discuss hedge. Not able to make contact.
  • [date] – as still unable to contact neighbour, wrote a letter to ask if we could discuss
    hedge. 2 weeks later no reply.
  • [date] – attempted again to contact neighbour informally, and wrote another letter to ask
    if we could discuss hedge. 2 weeks later no reply.
  • [date] – wrote to ask if the neighbour would speak to a mediator. 2 weeks later still no reply.
  • [date] – wrote to inform neighbours [Mr Bloggs] would be complaining to the 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 documentary evidence of your latest attempts to settle it, from June 2005 when the legislation came into force.

Criteria for making a complaint

Who can complain?

  • You must be the owner or occupier of the property affected by a high hedge in order to make a formal
    complaint to us. If you do not own the property (for example, because you are a tenant or a leaseholder), you can still make a complaint. But you should let the owner (for example, landlord or management company) know what you are doing.
  • The property does not have to be wholly residential but must include separate living accommodation otherwise we cannot consider the complaint.

Grounds of complaint

It will help if you provide as much information as you can but keep it factual. Please send a copy of your form to the person who owns the property where the hedge is growing, and/or to the person who lives there if they are different people.

Concentrate on the hedge and the disadvantages you experience because of its height. We cannot consider
problems that are not connected with the height of the hedge. For example, we cannot consider issues relating to the impact of the roots of the hedge, pushing up a path.

Nor can we consider things that are not directly 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 also provide a recent photo of the hedge and a plan showing the location of the hedge and surrounding properties. When drawing your plan please:

  • mark and name surrounding roads.
  • sketch in buildings, including adjoining properties. Add house numbers or names.
  • mark clearly the position of the hedge and how far it extends.
  • if you are complaining about the hedge blocking light, please also show on your plan:
    • which way is north
    • the position of windows that are affected by the hedge (for example, whether they are located on the front, side or rear of the house).
    • relevant measurements (for example, size of garden, distance between the hedge and any windows affected). All measurements must be in metres

Please include copies of any professional reports that you may have had prepared and of any other documents that you want us to take into account.

Previous complaints to us

We only need to know about formal complaints, made under the high hedges part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. You don’t need to tell us about telephone calls or other informal contact with us about your hedge problems.

Who’s who/the parties

Please provide names and addresses of all parties involved. This is required because there are some documents that we are required, by law, to send to the owner and occupier of the land on which the hedge grows. These include our decision on the complaint.

If you are in any doubt about who owns the property where the hedge is situated, you can check with the Land Registry

Supporting documents

To help us understand your situation, please upload in your application:

  • A photograph of the hedge
  • Location plan of the hedge and surrounding properties
  • Copies of correspondence with your neighbour about the hedge
  • Copies of any other documents that would be useful for us to view

Fees

In order for the Council to investigate your compliant you will be charged a fee of £450. Payment will be taken at the end of the online form using a debit or credit card.  

Fees for the investigation of a valid complaint are non-refundable. Fees for invalid complaints will be returned
along with all documents.

Acceptance of a valid complaint, only means that we have sufficient information to investigate a case
which falls within the legislation. It does not prejudice our decision, nor does it mean that a Remedial
Notice to reduce the height of the hedge will be served on the property owner.

Timescales/ process for consideration of your high hedges complaint

There is no specific timetable set by Government for the consideration of High Hedges Complaints by the
Council. You should, however, expect that the process may take at least 12 weeks before a decision is made,
from receipt of a valid complaint.

The following will normally be undertaken during that period.

  1. Applications received – standard acknowledgement within 3 days.
  2. Applications checked for validity. Valid complaints will receive a specific high hedge acknowledgement
    letter within 10 working days.
  3. Invalid applications will be returned to the complainant, explaining the reasons and that no
    further action taken.
  4. On receipt of a valid complaint we will contact both the hedge owner and the local Council member to
    advise them that it has been received and then give them 28 days to view the file and respond.
  5. We will then arrange for a site inspection by the relevant case officer after the initial 28-day consultation period has elapsed.
  6. The case officer will then assess the case and make recommendation of appropriate action for subsequent confirmation and notification of the decision to all parties.

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