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.
What you should do before you make a high hedge complaint
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.
Steps we can take to tackle high hedge complaints
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.
How to make a high hedge complaint
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).
Planning SupportCheshire East CouncilPO Box 606, Municipal BuildingsEarle StreetCrewe CW1 9HP
Help to fill in the high hedge complaint form
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.
Include any documents that may help your case, such as professional reports.