High hedge issues

We can help in disputes over high domestic evergreen hedges.

We act as an independent and impartial third party. We do not negotiate or mediate between individuals but will make a decision on whether the hedge is affecting the reasonable enjoyment of the complainant’s property. If we decide a hedge should be cut back, we can order the hedge owner to do the work and take enforcement action if needed.

The service costs £578.20, payable in advance. The fee is not refundable if your complaint is upheld.

Hedge issues we can and cannot help with

We can help with your complaint if all the following apply:

  • the property affected by the hedge includes living accommodation
  • the hedge is growing on land owned by someone else
  • it is made up of a line of 2 or more evergreen or semi evergreen trees or shrubs
  • it is over a height of 2 metres (measured from natural ground level)
  • it can obstruct light or views and detract from the reasonable enjoyment of your home or garden due to its height
  • you have tried all other means to sort out the problem with your neighbour and failed

In looking at complaints, we cannot consider any of the following issues:

  • problems that are not connected with the height of the hedge - for example, if roots are pushing up a path
  • the appearance of the hedge
  • the fact other nearby hedges are lower
  • concerns that worry is making you ill 

Making a complaint about a high hedge

We can only look at your complaint if you have not been able to resolve it yourself.

Talk to your neighbour, and if that does not work, try letters and mediation. See GOV.UK Over the garden hedge for advice on the steps to take and how to find a mediator.  

You can get support from an organisation such as Citizens' Advice if you need help deciding what to say to your neighbour.

We will need to see a record of conversations, letters, and mediation. 

If you are the occupier not the owner of the property affected, you should tell the the owner that you are making a complaint to us.

Checking the legal grounds for taking action

When you make a complaint about a high hedge we first check that the complaint meets the legal grounds for taking action. We will refund your payment if it does not.

Investigating the problem

Once we are satisfied the complaint is valid, we will:

  • ask your neighbour to set out their case
  • visit the site to assess the hedge and the surroundings
  • take measurements of the hedge and your garden
  • assess the information using standard national government calculations
  • check that the hedge does not contain any protected trees - any action would then need planning permission

Making our decision

We will then contact you with our decision. There are no set timescales for high hedge decisions. Central government suggests complainants should expect to wait at least 12 weeks.

In making our decision, we follow Part 8 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 (PDF, 365KB). Section 66 of the Act covers high hedges affecting domestic property and gives the legal definition of a hedge. 

Requiring the neighbour to take action

If we agree with your complaint, we will issue a 'remedial notice' setting out what the hedge owner must do and when they must do it by. We cannot order the hedge owner to cut down a hedge completely, only to reduce it to a particular height. The notice can also require the hedge owner to keep the hedge trimmed to its new size.

If the neighbour does not take action

Failure to carry out the works we order is an offence.

The hedge owner could be prosecuted, and fined up to £1,000 if found guilty by a magistrate's court. We can also enter the hedge owner's land and carry out the necessary work. If we do this we will recover the costs from the owner.  

If either you or the hedge owner do not agree with our decision

You can appeal to the independent planning inspectorate if we decide not to take action and you do not agree with our decision. The hedge owner can also appeal if they do not agree with our decision to take action. Complainants must appeal within 28 days of the date of our decision. Hedge owners must appeal within 28 days of the date of the remedial notice. 

How long we allow for the work to be done

We give the hedge owner a reasonable length of time in which to do the work on top of the 28 days allowed for them to make an appeal.

The length of time we give may depend on the time of year. This is because hedge cutting should be avoided during the nesting season (between 1 March and 31 August). It is a criminal offence to knowingly damage or destroy an active nest or the eggs or birds. 

For full details on making a complaint and what happens next, see GOV.UK High Hedges - complaining to the council.

To make your complaint, print out and complete our high hedge complaint form (PDF, 88KB). Email or post it to us with any relevant documents. If you email the form you can send other documents separately by post if needed.

You must also send a copy of the form to the hedge owner.

How to pay

Pay by card over the phone on 0300 123 5014 (state payment is for a high hedge complaint). If you cannot pay by card you can send a cheque made out to Cheshire East Council. 

Posting documents or cheques

If you send documents by post or a cheque, write a reference for the complaint on the back of each (for example, hedge complaint, 12 High Street).

Email: planning@cheshireeast.gov.uk 

Post:

Planning Support
Cheshire East Council
PO Box 606, Municipal Buildings
Earle Street
Crewe CW1 9HP

Hedge ownership

If you are not sure who owns the land where the hedge is growing, check with the land registry (small fee).

Attempts to resolve the complaint

Keep descriptions short. Say how you made the approach and what the result was. You do not need to send copies of all correspondence if the dispute is long-running. You only need to provide evidence of your latest attempts to settle it.

Record of action example 1

12 August 2019 - phoned to ask if we could discuss hedge. Met on 15 August but couldn't agree a solution.

31 August - mediators visited.

15 September - met neighbour and mediators but still couldn't agree.

30 September - wrote to tell neighbour would be informing council.

Record of action example 2

12 August 2019 - wrote to ask if we could discuss hedge. 2 weeks later no reply.

31 August wrote to ask if would speak to mediator. 2 weeks later no reply.

15 September wrote to say would be informing council.

Grounds of complaint

Concentrate on problems you experience because of the height of the hedge - see hedge issues we can and cannot help with.

Photo and plan

You will need to provide a photo of the hedge and a sketch plan showing the location of the hedge and surrounding properties. The plan should show:

  • surrounding roads, with names
  • nearby buildings with house numbers or names
  • the position and length of the hedge 

If you are complaining about the hedge blocking light, you should also include:

  • the direction of north 
  • relevant measurements in metres, such as the size of the garden and the distance between the hedge and any windows affected 

Previous complaints to the council

You only need to tell us about any formal complaints made through this process. We do not need to know about telephone calls or other informal contacts with us about the problem.

Supporting documents

Include any documents that may help your case, such as  professional reports. 

Contact the trees and hedges team

PlanningTrees@cheshireeast.gov.uk

0300 123 5014

Page last reviewed: 31 January 2022