Tall evergreen hedges sometimes become a problem between neighbours when they affect light, access or otherwise impede on a person's enjoyment of their domestic property.
Occasionally neighbours find it impossible to agree upon an amicable resolution.
The Council has the power to determine complaints by the owners/occupiers of domestic property affected by evergreen hedges over two metres high, under Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.
The Council may issue a 'Remedial Notice' requiring changes to the hedge and even enforce that notice should the owner of the hedge fail to comply.
Neighbours must however, try to resolve the problem between themselves. The Council may only be asked to intervene as a last resort after the complainant has tried to talk to their neighbour, write to them politely, or attempted mediation through a third party.
If the complainant cannot show they have tried these methods, the Council will not become involved and will not accept the application.
The Council will not become involved if they feel that the complainant is frivolous or vexatious.
There is a fee payable to the Council for this service.
If attempts to resolve the problem have failed a person affected by a high hedge may complain to the Council. They must fill in a application form which is available online or from the Council offices.
This must be sent into the council along with the fee. If the council decides that the hedge is covered under the terms of the legislation, then it will investigate the complaint.
The Council will write to both parties to obtain their points of view and make a site inspection. Once the facts have been gathered the Council will decide a course of action.
The Council will not negotiate a solution between the parties but make a judgment based upon the facts of the case.
The Council may decide the problem is not serious and nothing needs to be done. If, however, the council decides the complaint is valid, it may issue a 'Remedial Notice', telling the owner of the hedge what he or she must do.
This may be simply cutting it back to a more suitable height where the property is no longer badly affected or some other action seen as appropriate by the Council.
It is likely that the notice will require the hedge to be maintained at the new height in the future.
The 'Remedial Notice' will set out exactly what is required to be done and what time scale it must be completed in. The Council cannot order the owner of the hedge to remove it, to cut it down to a height lower than two metres or cut it down to a point that is likely to kill the hedge.
Under some circumstances the Council may decide that no action is appropriate even though the hedge is adversely affecting a complainant's property.
If either the owner of the hedge or the complainant does not agree with the Council's decision or a part of it, they may appeal to the Secretary of State within twenty eight days of the date of the notice.
The Secretary of State will review the Council's action and make his or her own decision on the case.
Once the Remedial Notice has taken effect or has been confirmed following an appeal, the owner of the hedge must carry out the requirements of the notice. If they fail to do so, the Council may take enforcement action against them, this may include bringing a prosecution in the Magistrates court and could mean a fine of up to one thousand pounds.
If the owner still does not comply, the Council may decide to do the necessary works themselves and recover the costs from the owner.
The Remedial Notice becomes a charge upon the land and therefore will apply to subsequent owners of the property.
If you have any questions about high hedges legislation or the complaints process, please write to the following address: Chief Planning Officer, Tandridge District Council, Station Road East, Oxted, Surrey, RH8 0BT.
You can also telephone us on: 01883 722000
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Tandridge District Council
8 Station Road East
Oxted RH8 0BT
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